Agnus Berenato won’t return to coach the Pitt women’s basketball team, the university announced Monday night.
The Panthers struggled mightily the past two seasons, finishing with 0-16 records in the Big East in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Their last regular-season win in conference play was Feb. 15, 2011, against Providence. They finished 9-21 overall this past season.
Berenato’s contract runs through 2015-16 after she was given a three-year extension in October 2008. The reward followed the team’s first appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Tournament, a trip they would repeat the following year.
She didn’t immediately return phone calls to the Tribune-Review on Monday night.
“We thank Agnus for her contributions to the university and wish her only the best in her future pursuits,” Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson wrote in an emailed statement. “We have high aspirations for Pitt women’s basketball and have witnessed the program achieving at impressive levels in the past. As we begin ACC play next season, the time is right for a leadership change in the program.”
Pitt officials said they would not comment beyond Pederson’s statement.
Berenato was hired in 2003 and guided the program to three consecutive NCAA Women’s Tournament appearances from 2007-09. She went 161-149 (.519) overall and 64-111 (.366) in Big East play at Pitt.
As the Panthers were again struggling in mid-February, Berenato was resigned to the fact her job security was out of her hands.
“I truly believe that … I am the exact same coach now as I was when we went to the Sweet 16 or won the WNIT championship (when I coached) at Georgia Tech – just older,” Berenato said at the time. “But I feel, in my age, I’ve gained more wisdom, and I’ve softened up.”
In 2003, Berenato inherited a team that had won 10 Big East games the previous three years combined.
But by the 2005-06 season, she had led Pitt to its first winning record in Big East play (10-8) since 1994-95, and they advanced to the WNIT semifinals.
During the 2006-07 season, Pitt earned its first ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll since 1979 and went the NCAA Women’s Tournament for the first time.