The axe on The Hill doesn't wait long to fall. Not long after the Utah women's basketball team bowed out of the Pac-12 post season tournament, Utes athletic direct, Dr. Chris Hill, fired head coach Anthony Levrets. The former head coach compiled a 78-87 record in five seasons at the helm, following his ascension from interim head coach after the retirement of Utes legend Elaine Elliot.
"It has been my extreme pleasure to serve the University of Utah women's basketball program as an assistant and then head coach," said a statement from Levrets. "It has been on e of the best opportunities that I have had in my life. I wish the young women in the program nothing but the best in their journeys, not only in basketball but in life."
The Utes completed their season Thursday at the Pac-12 Tournament, finishing with a 9-21 overall record and a 3-15 Pac-12 mark. In 2013-14, the Utes were 12-19 overall and 4-14 in the Pac-12.
"We appreciate the effort Coach Levrets put into our program, but we feel as though we need a change in direction," Hill said. "Our women's basketball program has achieved great success throughout its history and we are committed to its continued success."
Levrets' best season was in 2012-13, when the Utes went 23-14 overall (8-10 Pac-12) and played in the WNIT Championship game. His other winning season came as the interim head coach in 2010-11, when the Utes finished 18-17 overall (7-9 in the Mountain West Conference), won the MWC Tournament and played a first-round game in the NCAA Tournament. After Utah's postseason success, Levrets was retained as the head coach.
According to the office Utah athletic director, a national search will be conducted for Levrets' replacement. Levrets' team suffered a rash of injuries over the last 2-3 seasons, including injuries to stars like senior forward Taryn Wicijowski and sophomore forward Emily Potter. With that run of bad luck, one might think he'd get another year to right the ship; however, his teams haven't been particularly competitive in the Pac-12, which is where the bar is set for non-revenue sports.
The only real question that remains is whether or not Hill is willing to approach former men's basketball All Century Teamer and current BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. Will he bring Juddy back to the red side of the Force?
In 14 seasons as the head man down south, Juddy has amassed nine 20-win seasons, four straight, and taken his team to the post season 10 times (likely 11, counting this season). Judkins led his team to the NCAA Tournament six times (seven on the way), including two Sweet 16s. Judkins, who is Mormon, is known as a tremendous recruiter of LDS athletes.
Judkins was a men's basketball coach under the late Rick Majerus, and, by some accounts, was a buffer between Majerus and some of the players. Juddy and the Maji had a falling out, and the local product has been the women's coach at the blue school since 2001. Some say part of the issue was Judkins desire to be named head-coach-in-waiting, which Hill refused. Whatever the case, one half of the once famous JJs has been wearing blue for 14 years.
In the last five years, the girls in blue have made post season play every year, with two NCAA appearances, one first-round flameout and last season's Sweet 16. This season, Juddy's team is 21-9, 12-6 in conference play, and 10-3 at home.
Whoever Hill hires, it will be interesting to note whether he goes after a name, a local, a former legacy like Judkins, someone with a reputation as a great recruiter, or just tries to find one of his diamonds in the rough from the mid-major ranks again (Majerus and Urban Meyer). The hire will tell us just how much importance Utah's top man places on women's basketball.