Just as she did as a player, head coach Sharon Versyp has put her stamp on the Purdue women's basketball program. The former Boilermaker point guard has led Purdue to four Big Ten Tournament championships and two NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearances in her 11 seasons as the head coach at her alma mater. She is the winningest coach in program history, with 237 victories on the Boilermakers sidelines, good for 21.5 per year, and her 17-year career record as a head coach stands at 354-198. Versyp's current contract has secured her presence on the Boilermaker sidelines through at least the 2021-22 season.
Hall of Famer
Versyp's impact on basketball in the Hoosier state was recognized on April 24, 2010, when she was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility, an honor that includes Larry Bird and John Wooden. On June 22, 2013, Versyp was inducted into New England Basketball Hall of Fame for her stint as the head coach at Maine as well as her ensuing success. In addition to being named the America East Conference Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2005, Versyp was named the 2007 WBCA Region VI Coach of the Year and most recently was honored as the 2014 ESPNW Big Ten Coach of the Year.
The Mishawaka, Ind., native is known for her prowess in game preparation, individual player development and team building. Recruiting is a key to success and Versyp and her staff has proven that they can attract the elite players to Purdue. Ten of Versyp's 11 signing classes have been ranked in the top 25, including the 2015 group that was ranked eighth nationally by ESPNW Hoopgurlz, and first in the Big Ten Conference. Eight of her 11 recruiting classes at Purdue have earned recognition inside the top-15, while four have been ranked in the top-10, including the Class of 2010 which was tabbed sixth nationally. Versyp and her staff have brought in and developed some of the top players in Purdue history, including Fahkara Malone, Brittany Rayburn, KK Houser, Sam Ostarello, Courtney Moses and Ashley Morrissette.
In The Classroom
Equally impressive to the on-court accolades are the team's academic achievements under Versyp's guidance. The Boilermakers have earned 47 Academic All-Big Ten honors during her tenure, including recent three-time honorees Hayden Hamby, Drey Mingo, Courtney Moses, Chelsea Jones and Bridget Perry. Plus, Brittany Rayburn became the first Boilermaker Academic All-American since 2001, when she earned second team status as a senior, while 2009 graduate Lauren Mioton was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. Hamby and Rayburn were recipients of postgraduate scholarships from the Big Ten and NCAA, respectively, and are two-of-five recent Boilermakers to go on to medical school, joining Mioton, Mingo and Jones.
Versyp has guided 28 players to All-Big Ten accolades at Purdue, including five first-team selections, and three Boilermakers have been recognized with All-America honors. Katie Gearlds was a Third Team All-America pick in 2007, while Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton received honorable mention recognition the same year and Drey Mingo was also honorable mention All-America in 2013. Purdue has also seen four members of the conference All-Freshman Team, eight Big Ten All-Defensive Team members and a pair of Big Ten Sixth Players of the Year under Versyp, in addition to four Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Players and 16 all-tournament team members. Three Boilermakers have been selected in the WNBA draft during Versyp's tenure as Gearlds was picked seventh by the Seattle Storm in 2007, while Wisdom-Hylton was selected 13th by the Los Angeles Sparks and Danielle Campbell was picked 32nd by the Indiana Fever in 2009.
The Boilermakers have secured an NCAA Tournament bid in nine of 11 seasons under Versyp, advancing to the Elite Eight twice and to the second round on six other occasions. In 2007, the Boilermakers earned the No. 2 seed in the Dallas Region, dispatching No. 15 seed Oral Roberts, seventh-seeded Georgia Tech and No. 3 seed Georgia before falling in the national quarterfinals. The 2009 NCAA Tournament run came as a No. 6 seed in the Oklahoma City Region, as Purdue topped 11th-seeded Charlotte, upset No. 3 seed North Carolina and moved past seventh-seeded Rutgers before suffering a six-point loss in the regional final. In addition to their Elite Eight seedings, the Boilermakers have been a No. 9 seed three times, a No. 4 seed three times and an 11-seed once in their seven other appearances.
Purdue's four Big Ten Tournament titles under Versyp have come in impressive and dramatic fashion, garnering a 20-7 record at the event in 11 appearances. Never once entering the tournament as the top seed, the Boilermakers earned the 2007 and 2008 tournament titles, followed up with the 2012 and 2013 titles, and are one of just three teams in the conference to ever win consecutive tournament championships. Gearlds led a second-seeded Boilermaker squad to the 2007 title, while the Boilermaker secured a necessary automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament title with an outstanding postseason run, which was capped by a buzzer-beating, game-winner from Lakisha Freeman to edge Illinois in the championship. The Boilermakers took the 2012 conference tournament as a No. 4 seed, knocking off top-seeded Penn State in the semifinals before winning a 74-70, double-overtime thriller over Big Ten newcomer Nebraska in the finals. The 2013 championship run was a dominant one, as Versyp's third-seeded squad won by an average of 13.3 points per game, including a 62-47 victory over Michigan State in the finals, and Drey Mingo was named the tournament's most outstanding player. The Boilermakers' nine Big Ten Tournament titles are a conference-best and the four championships under Versyp equal the total of the next-best team in the tournament's 21-year history. Purdue has been to the Big Ten title game in 14-of-23 tournaments, including six under Versyp, and the Boilermaker head coach set the career record for Big Ten Tournament victories in 2016-17 with her 22nd win.
Off the Court
In addition to her work with the Boilermakers, Versyp has worked hard to grow women's basketball on a national level. She's currently working with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) on a national recruiting committee after serving as the head of the Carol Eckman Award committee in 2015 and 2016. She also served as the head of the Big Ten Conference women's basketball coaches committee, chairing their annual meetings in 2014-15 and 2015-16. She's given numerous presentations and led workshops at the annual WBCA Convention as well, held each year in conjunction with the NCAA Final Four.
Versyp returned to her alma mater as Purdue's eighth head coach on April 10, 2006, to build upon the excellence of Purdue women's basketball. Her first year with the Boilermakers was one for the record books as she set a Boilermaker coaching record with a mark of 31-6, shattering the previous win record for a Purdue first-year head coach. The 31 victories matched the second-highest win total in school history, and their .838 win percentage is the fifth-best for a season in the Boilermaker archives. It is one of just three 30+-win seasons in 39 years of Purdue women's basketball, matching their 2001 Final Four appearance and three shy of the 34-win, 1999 NCAA Championship season.
Versyp was the head coach at Indiana prior to Purdue, where she led her team to a 19-14 season, 9-7 in the Big Ten and the quarterfinals of the postseason WNIT. The nine-game improvement was the second largest turn-around in school history for a first-year head coach. While at Indiana, Versyp guided senior Cindi Valentin to first team All-Big Ten honors and newcomer Whitney Thomas to the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Prior to her stint with the Hoosiers, Versyp was the head coach at Maine for five seasons where she amassed a 98-51 record, including a 67-19 America East Conference record. Versyp's teams won three-straight America East regular season championships (2003, 2004, 2005) and in 2004 also won the America East Tournament title earning an NCAA Tournament berth. Versyp was twice voted America East Coach of the Year (2003 and 2005). Her teams achieved season records of 25-6 in 2002-03 and 25-7 in 2003-04, which were the first back-to-back 25-win campaigns in school history.
Under Versyp's guidance, Maine student-athletes earned America East, Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year designations and garnered 15 all-conference honors in her five years with the Black Bears. Versyp coached 2003 and 2004 America East Player of the Year, Heather Ernest, who went on to play professionally overseas. While at Maine, Versyp's team ranked 13th in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association National Team Academic Honor Roll.
After graduating from Purdue, Versyp became a head coach in the high school ranks at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis from 1989-93. There she took a 0-18 team to a sectional runner-up finish in just two seasons. She also served as the head coach at Benton Central High School in Oxford, Ind., from 1993 to 1996.
Versyp entered the collegiate ranks in 1996-97, when she joined Bud Childers' staff at the University of Louisville. After going 20-9, sharing the Conference USA regular-season title and an earning NCAA berth, Childers left for James Madison University. Versyp joined him in Harrisonburg, Va., serving as his top assistant and recruiting coordinator. She was there for three seasons and in 1999 helped ink a recruiting class ranked nationally in the top 25.
As a Player
Versyp's Indiana roots run deep. She was named Indiana Miss Basketball in 1984 becoming the first of nine Miss Basketball's to play for the Boilermakers, a list which most-recently includes Moses, Rayburn and Gearlds.
As a player Versyp was a fixture in the Purdue starting lineup beginning her freshman year and is one of only 10 four-year starters in Purdue women's basketball history. She led the team in scoring three-straight seasons and still owns spots on the career record lists for scoring, field goals, free throw shooting, assists, steals and minutes played. She sits 13th on the Boilermakers' career scoring list with 1,565 points, and ranks 10th all-time with 418 career assists and 14th with 194 career steals. Her 653 career field goals rank ninth in school history, while 79.6 career free throw shooting percentage is tied for ninth all-time at Purdue. Her 12 assists against San Diego State in 1987 remain tied for fourth-most on Purdue's single-game record list, while her 87 career double-figure scoring games remains ninth all-time for the Boilermakers. Versyp was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten Team member and Second Team Academic All-American as a senior.