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McInerney Retires After 40 Years at Arizona State

After 40 years as the Arizona State women’s head coach, Sheila McInerney is retiring.

McInerney announced her decision on Tuesday, three days after the Sun Devils lost to Pepperdine in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. A former standout player at the University of Southern California, McInerney will be exiting along with the dissolution of the Pac-12 Conference. The Sun Devils will be joining the Big 12 in the fall.

Sheila McInerney Was Named Head Coach in 1984
© ASU Athletics

"Four decades of my life have been dedicated to Sun Devil women's tennis and Sun Devil athletics, and I am very thankful for those that made it a wonderful time,” McInerney said in a statement released by ASU. “There have been countless student-athletes, assistant coaches, and staff who have helped me and I plan to take time now and thank as many as I can.”

McInerney was named the ASU head coach on August 16, 1984. She has won nearly 600 matches (584-350) and led the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament 37 times, including the last 36 straight. She has coached 49 All-Americans, notched more than 100 wins against ranked opponents since 2008, and led ASU to 13 top-10 finishes.

McInerney, who turned 66 in February, has held her position longer than any head coach in any sport at ASU.

"Who would have thought when Dick Tamburo and Mona Plummer hired me, I would still be here in 2024?” McInerney said. “There are so many people to thank, but I want to say thanks to long-time assistants Paul Reber, Clint Letcher and Matt Langley who were instrumental in helping our program stay so competitive over the years. Our rockstar academic advisor Denzel Burrell who has been with us for 11 years and has been so important in our team's academic success. Don Bocchi was the perfect sport administrator for countless years and was and still is a great mentor to me.”

McInerney was a four-time All-American at USC, helping the Women of Troy win three national championships. After graduating, the New York native returned to USC to be a graduate assistant under her former coach, Dave Borelli.

After one year as a paid assistant at USC, she heard the ASU job was open and drove to Tempe in her Ford Escort to interview with Plummer. She’s twice been named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, coached more than 50 all-conference selections and her teams have never finished ranked outside of the top 40 nationally.

But even more than any statistic or win total, McInerney’s professionalism and kindness will be what she is remembered for most. She was a mother figure to all of her players and would do anything to help them on or off the court. She was admired by her colleagues, and became a mentor to many young coaches.

In an era where some only wanted what was best for their program, McInerney cared more about what was best for the sport and every college player’s experience.

In her retirement, McInerney plans to play pickleball and learn how to golf. She joked that ASU golf coaches Missy Farr-Kaye and Matt Thurmond are now in charge of making her swing better.

"No retirement in coaching is easy, because there is much I will miss, and that includes some great people, but now is the time for me to step aside and watch Sun Devil Athletics in a different way,” McInerney said. “The changing landscape in college athletics is a perfect time for our program to move forward in a new direction and no one understands that better than me. I am ready for retirement, and I look forward to spending many days ahead enjoying all the things in life that maybe one can't while coaching.”


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About Rhiannon Potkey

Rhiannon Potkey is a veteran sportswriter with more than two decades of experience in journalism. Potkey has covered many sports at many levels and has a passion for finding great stories. Potkey has covered the U.S. Open, junior sectional and national events, college conference championships and Davis Cup matches. Potkey is currently Content Strategist for Tennis Recruiting. You can reach Rhiannon by email at [email protected].

Page updated on Sunday, May 19, 2024
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