BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – UB women’s basketball has found its next head coach as Becky Burke takes over after Felisha Legette-Jack left for Syracuse.
Burke most recently spent two seasons as the head coach of USC Upstate and was named the 2022 Big South Coach of the Year.
“I would like to thank Mark Alnutt, President Tripathi and the rest of the search committee for trusting me to be the next head coach here at the University at Buffalo,” Burke said in a statement via UB Athletics.
“From the start of this process, Mark and my vision for the women’s basketball program at UB have aligned perfectly,” she added. “This program has been built under Coach Legette-Jack’s leadership into a dominant program in the MAC with national respect. I am fully committed to keeping it that way and becoming the premiere mid-major destination for some of the best players in the country. We will pride ourselves on continuing to raise the bar on the court but also be great representatives of this University and the City of Buffalo. Again, I am humbled and so appreciative of this opportunity and can’t wait to get on campus.”
Burke takes over a program Legette-Jack spent ten seasons building during her time as head coach of the Bulls before returning to her alma mater in Central New York. Before Legette-Jack took over, the Bulls had never won a MAC title and therefore never made the big dance. Now UB is coming off its fourth NCAA tournament appearance in the past six years, most recently losing to No. 4 Tennessee a few weeks ago in Knoxville.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Becky Burke to our UB Family,” UB Athletic Director Mark Alnutt said in a statement via UB Athletics.
“Throughout this search process, she quickly separated herself from the other candidates by displaying an infectious passion for the sport, a strong work ethic, and a competitive nature while forging genuine relationships with her student-athletes as she prepares them for success both on and off the court. She articulated a vision for this program which will build upon the success that we’ve had and continue to make our brand nationally recognized as a premier basketball program. Becky is a rising star in our industry and a proven winner which is very apparent at all of her previous stops. University at Buffalo Women’s Basketball is in very good hands for years to come.”
Burke is hoping to continue this success but also faces a tough challenge with a number of players who have entered the transfer portal including their top player, Dyaisha Fair who ended last season fourth in the nation in scoring with 23.4 points per game. She has not announced what program she’ll be moving on to but MAC freshman of the year, Georgia Woolley and Saniaa Wilson will be joining Legette-Jack at Syracuse.
However, Burke does have experience rebuilding a program. When she took over USC Upstate in 2020, Burke led the Spartans to five Big South Conference wins and while that doesn’t seem like much, it is when you compare that to how many they had before it. Those five conference wins were the most in four seasons for the Spartans.
Last season saw even more growth under Burke as she led the Spartans to being the No. 3 seed in the Big South Tournament and a first-round bye. Not too shabby for a team picked tenth in the preseason poll. USC Upstate made a 14-win improvement from the season before. She’s certainly have to channel some of those skills when getting to work with the Bulls given all of the changes to the roster and there’s probably still more to come.
Burke is also no stranger to success as a player during her time at Louisville. She helped lead the Cardinals to three NCAA tournament appearances during her four year playing career including the National Championship game in 2009 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2011.
UB will hold Burke’s introductory press conference at Alumni Arena on Friday, April 8th at noon.