Stony Brook women’s basketball head coach, Caroline McCombs, at a practice in the fall of 2019. She will be leaving Stony Brook University to coach at George Washington University. SARA RUBERG/STATESMAN FILE

On April 2, Caroline McCombs announced her departure as head coach of the Stony Brook women’s basketball team, weeks after leading the program to its first America East finals win and first NCAA Tournament appearance.

“Caroline … has worked tirelessly to build our women’s basketball program into the success it is today,” director of athletics Shawn Heilbron said in a press release. “Under her direction, our team has reached historic heights. I’ll always appreciate our time together.”

McCombs has accepted a job as head coach of the George Washington Colonials, who finished 2021 with a 9-14 record.

“In all of my conversations, it was evident that my values would fit seamlessly with the established culture at GW,” McCombs said in a press release. “Furthermore, I’d like to thank Shawn Heilbron for the opportunity to become a head coach and the position he put me in to lead the Stony Brook program.”

McCombs is the winningest coach in Stony Brook’s Division I history, and second-most successful overall. She took over the team in 2014, and went 130-76 in seven seasons.

The Seawolves were declared America East champions for the first time ever after going 28-3 in 2020, the best record in program history. However, the championship game and the NCAA Tournament were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. McCombs led the team back to the finals this year, where they defeated the Maine Black Bears to finally clinch a tournament berth.

Stony Brook earned the No. 14 seed, but lost to the third-seeded Arizona Wildcats in the first round, who have now reached the Final Four.

Four players reached the 1,000 point mark during McCombs’ tenure, most recently senior forward India Pagan. The team also earned 19 All-Conference selections.

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The announcement puts the futures of the team’s six seniors into doubt, who would be eligible to return for one more year because the 2020 season was cancelled. That includes Pagan and guard Hailey Zeise, who were instrumental in both of the Seawolves’ championship runs.

Stony Brook will now begin a national search for McCombs’ successor.

“The goal is to find a proven winner who will build upon our success and lead us to new heights,” Helibron said.

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