N.C. Central’s women’s basketball coach Vanessa Taylor will not be returning to the school next season.
The school announced Thursday that Taylor’s contract would not be renewed.
In five seasons in Durham, Taylor led the Eagles to an overall record of 33-113. The 2016-17 team finished 8-21 overall and 7-9 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. N.C. Central ended the regular season on a two-game winning streak, including an upset road win over North Carolina A&T. However, they were eliminated by the Aggies in the first round of the MEAC tournament. Since making the switch to Division I, the Lady Eagles haven’t won a game in the league tournament.
Taylor arrived in Durham in 2012 with a reputation for turning around programs. Prior to her tenure in Durham she was the head coach at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, where she became the Lady Bulls all-time winningest women’s basketball coach with a record of 215-112. Taylor guided JCSU to its first CIAA tournament title in 2009, and made five NCAA tournament appearances. The Lady Bulls were ranked in the Top 25 four times under Taylor. Before coming to N.C. Central, she had four 20-win seasons after 11 seasons at Johnson C. Smith and seven at Elizabeth City State University.
That success, however, did not follow Taylor to Durham. Her best season was her second year, when N.C Central finished 11-19 overall and 6-10 in the MEAC. The seven MEAC wins last season were the most league wins by N.C. Central since Taylor took over. The team averaged four league wins a season under Taylor. The Eagles showed flashes, winning five games in the final month of the season. But they started the season 1-11, including a 50-point loss to N.C. State on Dec. 14. N.C. Central finished at the bottom of the MEAC in scoring (50.3 ppg) and field goal percentage (.301). Against Hampton on January 16, the Eagles set a school record with 36 turnovers and lost 60-36.
N.C. Central returns nine players, including three starters next season.
“I would like to thank Coach Vanessa Taylor for her years of service to North Carolina Central University. Coach Taylor worked hard to grow our program,” NCCU athletic director Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree said in a statement. “However, at this time, we will look to new leadership for our women’s basketball program.”
Associate head coach Kendra Eaton will serve as interim head coach and oversee women’s basketball operations until a head coach is hired. A national search for a coach will begin immediately.