Coaches of Top-Ranked Teams Among Those Vying for National Honor

ATLANTA (March 25, 2024) – The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today the finalists for the 2024 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award.

South Carolina’s Dawn Staley looks to win her fourth Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award in the last five seasons. She remains the only individual to have claimed the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy for Player of the Year and Coach of the Year honors. She was Player of the Year at Virginia in 1991 and 1992.

The other finalists are Iowa’s Lisa Bluder, Southern California’s Lindsay Gottlieb and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer.

VanDerveer has won the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year award three times (1990, 2011, and 2021) and is the only coach from the Pac-12 to win it. She has coached two Naismith Players of the Year – Kate Starbird (1997) and Jennifer Azzi (1990).

Bluder was honored as the Naismith Coach of the Year in 2019 and is one of two Hawkeye coaches to win the award (Vivian Stringer, 1993). Two of her players have won the Naismith Player of the Year award (Caitlin Clark, 2023, also a finalist this year) and Megan Gustafson (2019). Gottlieb is looking to win her first Naismith award. Cheryl Miller (1984-86) and Lisa Leslie (1994) have won Naismith awards for the Trojans.

On the men’s side, Hurley, from the defending national champions UConn Huskies, looks to be the first men’s coach from the school to win the award. T.J. Otzelberger (Iowa State), Lamont Paris (South Carolina) and Kelvin Sampson (Houston) join Hurley as finalists and look to win the first Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award for their respective programs.

About the 2024 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Finalists:

Lisa Bluder, Iowa

  • Her team is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and she guided the Hawkeyes to a 30-4 record – their eighth consecutive season with 20 or more victories, which is the most since C. Vivian Stringer was head coach.
  • Iowa has won 30+ games for only the second time in school history (2022-23).
  • Bluder has the 10th most wins in Division-I women’s basketball history and is third among active DI head coaches (880).
  • She has guided Iowa to three straight Big Ten Tournament titles and coached six of the last seven Big Ten Players of the Year.
  • This year marks the 14th time in the last 16 seasons her team has advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Lindsay Gottlieb, Southern California

  • She led her team to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the first for the program since 1986.
  • The tournament appearance is the second consecutive for the Women of Troy for the first time since 2006.
  • The Trojans won the Pac-12 Tournament.
  • Her team is currently 27-5 – the most wins for the Trojans since going 31-5 in 1985-86.

Dawn Staley, South Carolina

  • She led the Gamecocks to an undefeated season entering the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
  • Named SEC Coach of the Year for the seventh time in her career and the third consecutive year.
  • Guided South Carolina to its third consecutive SEC regular season and fourth conference tournament title in five seasons.
  • Led the team to its third consecutive overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and to the school’s 10th straight appearance in the tournament’s Sweet 16.

Tara VanDerveer, Stanford

  • VanDerveer has led Stanford to a 30-5 record this season, a 15-3 mark in the Pac-12 and the Cardinal’s fourth consecutive Pac-12 regular-season title.
  • Her teams have won 20 or more games a record 39 times, including each of the last 23 seasons.
  • On Jan. 21, 2024, she surpassed Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (1,202) to become the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history. She now has 1,216 career wins.
  • Her team is a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and has advanced to the Sweet 16.

About the 2024 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year Finalists:

Dan Hurley, UConn

  • His team is 33-3 this year and is in the Sweet 16 after entering the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.
  • Named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year.
  • Led the Huskies to the BIG EAST regular season and conference tournament titles.
  • Became only the second player in BIG EAST history, along with Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, to win the conference tournament as both a player and a head coach.
  • In the BIG EAST play, his team registered a league record 18 wins, tied a conference mark with 14 consecutive wins and tied the conference mark in scoring average at +13.9 per game.

T.J. Otzelberger, Iowa State

  • Led team to a 29-7 record and a Big 12 conference tournament title.
  • The 29 wins are the second-most in school history.
  • The Cyclones were in the Top 10 for the second time in three seasons and are a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
  • A No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, he has the Cyclones in the Sweet 16 for the second time in the last three years.
  • The team won 18 home games in 2023-24, which tied for the most in school history.

Lamont Paris, South Carolina

  • Named the Southeastern Conference’s Coach of the Year in 2024.
  • He led the Gamecocks to the NCAA Tournament this year for the first time since 2017, becoming only the sixth coach in program history to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament.
  • The team went 26-8 and recorded the greatest single-season turnaround in program history, improving the team’s win total by 15 games from the previous season. The program’s 13 SEC wins are the second most in program history (15 in 1996-97).
  • South Carolina’s 25 regular season wins were a program record, and the 26 overall wins tied with the 2016-17 Final Four team for the most single season wins in program history.
  • The Gamecocks defeated a pair of top-10 teams in a three-game stretch for the first time since 1968.

Kelvin Sampson, Houston

  • Named the Big 12’s Coach of the Year in the program’s first year in the conference.
  • His team is 32-4 and is in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed. 
  • The Cougars were the Big 12 regular season champion in their first year in the conference.
  • For the first time in program history, he has led Houston to three consecutive 30+ win seasons, the nation’s longest streak.
  • The Cougars have been ranked among the nation’s Top 10 in both polls throughout the season and were No. 1 from the middle of January through the end of the regular season.

“As we approach the thrilling culmination of this extraordinary college basketball season, we express our profound gratitude for the unwavering commitment and diligence demonstrated by these coaches in steering their teams towards the pinnacle of a national championship,” said Eric Oberman, President of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “The competition for the prestigious Werner Ladder Naismith Award for Women’s and Men’s College Coach of the Year has been nothing short of exhilarating, underscoring the remarkable achievements of these coaches and their respective programs.”

“Werner Ladder congratulates these remarkable coaches and their teams,” remarked Stacy Gardella, Head of Global Marketing Technology & Operations at WernerCo. “We wish them continued success in their respective tournaments and commend them for their exceptional leadership, which inspires us all.”

The 2024 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year award will be presented on Wednesday, April 3, at a press conference at the Key Bank Club in the Cleveland Browns Stadium during the Women’s Final Four. The 2024 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year announcement will take place on Sunday, April 7, at the Naismith Awards Brunch during the Final Four in Phoenix. The Phoenix Art Museum will host the event. SiriusXM will simulcast the live announcement on SiriusXM College Sports Radio (Channel 84).

Fans will once again be able to support their favorite finalist through the Naismith Awards Fan Vote presented by Jersey Mike’s, which runs Tuesday, March 26, through Tuesday, April 2, at The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall final vote. Fans may also vote by visiting @naismithtrophy, @MarchMadness and @MarchMadnessWBB Twitter pages to vote for their favorite men’s and women’s coaches.

The four finalists for each category were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom base their selections on outstanding coaching performances during the 2023-24 college basketball season. The vote was tabulated and verified by the Atlanta team of J.S. Held, a global consulting firm.

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Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, the most prestigious national honors in all of college and high school basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the family of Naismith Awards annually recognizes the most outstanding men’s and women’s college and high school basketball players and coaches. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the men’s and women’s college basketball defensive players of the year, as well as lifetime achievement awards to basketball officials and outstanding contributors to the game. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor received the first Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy in 1969, while the late Anne Donovan (Old Dominion) was the inaugural women’s recipient in 1983. Corporate partners of the Naismith Awards include AXIA Time, Jersey Mike’s and Werner Ladder.


Werner, the official ladder of NCAA® March Madness® and the world leader in ladders, offers a complete line of climbing products designed for working at heights. The portfolio includes ladders, attic ladders, scaffolding, pump jacks, stages, planks, accessories and fall protection equipment including harnesses, lanyards, anchors and compliance kits. From ladders to fall protection, Werner provides a full line of climbing equipment that’s engineered for maximum safety, durability and productivity at every height. All Werner products meet or exceed applicable international safety standards. For more information, visit


Media Contact:

Mallory Hadaway, Atlanta Tipoff Club
[email protected]
(256) 682-0599