Jane Albright momentarily popped a straw hat onto her head, to go with her dark blue Wolf Pack women's basketball sweats, for her press conference Wednesday morning at Legacy Hall.
Albright, who over nine seasons as the Wolf Pack women's basketball coach has compiled 115 victories, second-most in program history, announced she would be retiring at the conclusion of this season.
"Well, thanks for coming folks," Albright, a native of North Carolina, said with a smile as she briefly wore her straw hat. "I'm not really dressed up for the occasion ... But this is more who I am."
And who Albright was, and what she has come to represent during her nine seasons as head coach, was something that drew praise from athletic director Doug Knuth. Knuth said the 61-year-old Albright, who has amassed more than 500 victories in a collegiate head coaching career spanning more than three decades and is currently among the top 30 active coaches for career wins, has been stellar in all aspects.
Knuth spoke of Albright's support of the University's educational mission, and her ability to connect all aspects of it to her program and her coaching. "There is nobody that embodies that mission more than Jane Albright," Knuth said.
Knuth added that Albright was the special type of coach whose body of work goes well beyond wins and losses. Said Knuth: "In the coaching world, a lot of times it's about wins and losses. We need to think about all that she's accomplished during her career. It's not about wins and losses.
"Jane Albright, her success is how she impacts people."
Added University President Marc Johnson: "The University is a better place for having Jane as our women's basketball coach. In every way, she has poured herself into our women's basketball program, our athletic department, our University and our community. She's had a simply profound impact on every person she's come in contact with during her nine seasons. Her personal graciousness, her coaching skill, and her ability to connect and educate, has helped make our women's basketball program a prized community asset."
Albright said that of all her coaching stops - she began her career as an assistant in the early 1980s working for legendary Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt, and subsequently was the head coach at Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Wichita State and Nevada - her time coaching the Wolf Pack was the most "fun."
"By far, the most fun of my life has been this nine years, because of the people," she said.
Under Albright's direction, the Wolf Pack's people attained numerous program milestones. She led the Wolf Pack to back-to-back appearances in the WNIT in 2010 and 2011 and earned the program's first victory in the WNIT when the team defeated Saint Mary's in 2011. The 2010-11 team, led by future WNBA draft pick Tahnee Robinson, became the first team in program history to post a 20-win season, finishing that year with a record 22 wins. Also during Albright's watch, the program produced its first (and only) WNBA draft picks in Robinson (2011) and Mimi Mungedi (2015).
In addition to the victories, Albright stressed academics and community involvement for her players. During the 2015 season, for example, he players wore a T-shirt with the acronym STUPH , which spoke to Albright's own personal code: Servanthood; Teamwork; Unity; Passion; Humility.
"Investing in young people is the future of everything," she said. "It's always about people. It is always about love. It is always about truth."
Knuth said Albright and her players had connected with the community in ways that went far beyond wins and losses. He referenced the "mid-day, mid-week" game the Wolf Pack women's basketball program has always played during the season, a game in which more than 4,000 young fans were brought to campus "to see what college is like. No one does that better (than Albright)," he said. "There is no one who engages our community like Jane Albright."
During Albright's time at Nevada, 29 of her players have received at least one degree, with all her current student-athletes on track to graduate.
Albright said her decision to retire was simply a matter of choosing the right moment in her life. It's a moment in which she hopes she'll be able to spend more time with family, friends, ex-players, and non-profit organizations within the community of which she's already served as a volunteer. She also plans to travel, including a six-week road trip across the country once the Wolf Pack's season ends.
She said the time was right to "turn in my A-list card," of travel throughout the country for games and recruiting and coaching conventions, and to simply sit "around and talk to you and not just have to go" to another coaching commitment.
She said after receiving a $500 salary for her first high school head coaching job in Spartanburg, S.C. in 1977, the past 40 years of coaching young women could not have been more rewarding.
"People have poured into my life for 40 years to help me in this great profession, and I'm so thankful for that," she said.