Julie Wilhoit enters her 17th season as the head coach of the Loyola Marymount University women's basketball program. The West Coast Conference Coach of the Year three of her seasons at LMU, she has steered the Lions to an average of 17 wins a season from 2000-10, including LMU's first ever WCC Championship, an appearance in the 2003-04 NCAA Tournament, and an appearance in the WNIT Tournament in 2000-01. The Lions have also been invited to play in the Preseason WNIT twice in the last six years. At home that record becomes even more astounding as Wilhoit's Lions are 92-50 in Gersten Pavilion over the last 10 years.
Wilhoit became the winningest coach in LMU women's basketball history with a 66-63 victory over IUPUI on December 18, 2003. On February 2, 2008, she recorded her 300th career win as a head coach with a 68-64 victory at San Francisco. She reached 200 victories at LMU just over a year later, hitting the milestone in LMU's 71-60 win over Santa Clara at the WCC Tournament on March 7, 2009.
Wilhoit was the first LMU women's basketball coach to earn the WCC Coach of the Year honor in 1999-00. She repeated the feat the following year to become only the second coach in WCC history to garner the award two years in a row. In 2004, she added to her honors by winning the WCC award for the third time in five years. She was also named the Russell Athletic/WBCA Regional Coach of the Year for Region 8. The region represents head coaches from the Pac-10, Big West, and West Coast Conferences. She was a national finalist for the NCAA Division I Russell Athletic/WBCA Coach of the Year award.
In 16 seasons on the Bluff, Wilhoit has led LMU through a march from the bottom half of the conference finishers to the top. Due in large part to Wilhoit's direction and leadership, the Lions have become a consistent top tier WCC team and broke into the national spotlight with their record-breaking season in 2003-04. That year, the Lions finished with the best record west of Montana, and the 13th best record in the nation. LMU received votes in both the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll and the AP poll.
Under Wilhoit's direction, the program has continued a process of constant improvement. The 2000-01 squad exemplified that by recording the program's first ever 20-win season. The 2001-02 Lions posted a 15-13 overall mark for the program's first ever back-to-back winning seasons, and the 2003-04 team shattered LMU's record books.
In 2003-04, Wilhoit and the Lions went 24-6 overall and ran through the West Coast Conference with a 13-1 record. After dropping their season-opener, the Lions rattled off eight straight victories. Much of LMU's success came at home, where they posted an impressive 12-1 mark in Gersten Pavilion. The only loss was to #4 Duke in the LMU Marina del Rey Marriott Beach Classic. Once WCC play began, an away loss at Gonzaga was no deterrent to the start of the conference season. The Lions bounced back by winning the next 15 games, a school-record, to close out the regular season and sweep through the WCC Tournament for the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. LMU earned a #13 seed and faced fourth-seeded Baylor in the first round, putting up a valiant effort before succumbing 71-60.
The 2003-04 campaign jump-started the Lions to close out the decade. LMU has recorded at least 15 victories each year since and has not finished below .500. The 2004-05 and 2005-06 teams both advanced to the WCC Tournament Semifinals, with the 2006-07 squad making it to the WCC Championship Game, one game shy of another NCAA Tournament bid. Most recently, the 2008-09 team posted 18 victories and also advanced to the WCC Semifinals. In 2006-07, LMU came within a whisker of its second NCAA Tournament appearance, making it to the West Coast Conference championship game. The Lions finished that campaign with a 19-12 mark.
Some of the greatest players in LMU women's basketball history have played under Coach Wilhoit. Kate Murray (03-04) became the first Lion to earn WCC Player of the Year honors, and Bryn Britton (1999-2002) was LMU's first three-time All-Conference selection. Adrianne Slaughter earned WCC Tournament MVP honors in 2003-04 and was a two-time All-WCC honoree as well as the Defensive Player of the Year. In recent years, Wilhoit has seen Amanda DeCoud (2006-07) also garner Defensive Player of the Year accolades while Alex Cowling (2008-09) and Camille Buckley (2010-11) have been the conference's Newcomers of the Year. In total, Wilhoit has coached 37 All-WCC performers.
A strong believer in the LMU philosophy, Wilhoit is dedicated to excellence in academics, as well as athletics. She has coached a number of highly decorated student-athletes including the 2003-04 WCC and LMU Scholar-Athlete of the Year Kate Murray. In 2010, Jessica Vargas became the first LMU student to ever become a Rhodes Scholarship finalist and she later became the first student-athlete to win the university's highest academic honor, Scholar of the Year.
Wilhoit was appointed the fourth head coach in LMU women's basketball history on June 30, 1995. Wilhoit came to LMU in July 1995 after a two-year stint at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford where she posted a mark of 33-26, including a school-record 22-11 mark in 1994-95.
A head coaching veteran of 23 years, Wilhoit has an overall coaching record of 345-309. She coached for five seasons at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis where she posted a record of 88-44 including a 45-17 mark in her final two seasons. Wilhoit led IUPUI to back-to-back 20-win seasons in 1990 and 1991 and a Final Four appearance in 1991, where IUPUI lost to Southwestern Oklahoma in the semi-finals.
After a two-year coaching hiatus, Wilhoit rejoined the coaching ranks at Pitt-Bradford and took over a team that had posted a 4-20 record the year prior to her arrival. With nearly the same personnel from the previous season, the team posted an 11-15 overall mark, one of the biggest turnarounds in collegiate basketball that season. The following season, she led the team to its best record ever at 22-11 and helped it advance to the championship game of the Keystone Empire Collegiate Conference.
Following her successes at IUPUI and Pitt-Bradford, Wilhoit was hired at LMU to rebuild the women's basketball program. In her first year as the Lions' head coach, Wilhoit led the team to a non-conference winning season, the first since 1992-93. The squad also beat Santa Clara on the road, marking the program's first conference road win since the 1990-91 season.
Wilhoit is also active on basketball committees nationally, serving on the WBCA (Women's Basketball Coaches Association) Board of Directors as the West representative. She has served on several Player of the Year and All-American committees, including the State Farm Wade Trophy and Kodak All-American.
Wilhoit enjoyed a decorated basketball career at Marian College in Indianapolis, Indiana. A four-year letterwinner, Wilhoit once held the school's career scoring record with 1,489 points and ranks among career leaders in steals and rebounds. She was a two-time team Most Valuable Player and earned NAIA all-district honors following her junior and senior seasons. In 2004, Wilhoit was elected to the Marian College Athletics Wall of Fame.
A 1985 graduate, she earned her bachelor's degree in physical education from Marian College. While coaching at IUPUI, she earned her master's degree in education from Indiana University in 1988. Wilhoit began her coaching career at Marian College as an assistant coach during the 1986-87 season.
Wilhoit's professional work experience falls outside of the realm of coaching as well. In 1996 she helped co-found Sneaker Sisters, a non-profit community organization which promotes sports and fitness to economically disadvantaged girls on the westside of Los Angeles. Wilhoit currently serves as an honorary board member for the non-profit organization. She also served as the Director of Fitness at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport in Indianapolis from 1988-1993.
She is active in community service in the Los Angeles area, including the local YWCA. In the spring of 2005, Wilhoit was honored for her community services efforts by being named the YWCA Santa Monica/Westside Woman of the Year. She was also chosen to receive one of LMU's "Herstory" awards as part of Women's History Month.
Born in Greensburg, Indiana, Wilhoit grew up in the small town of Osgood - population 2,000. She played basketball and graduated from Jac-Cen-Del High School in 1981, a high school rich in basketball tradition. In 2006, Wilhoit was named to the Ripley County Basketball Hall of Fame.
Wilhoit currently resides in Culver City.
Wilhoit's Career Coaching Record
Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis