After 25 memorable years at the helm of Sun Devils Basketball, Charli Turner Thorne has announced her retirement from the Head Coaching position of the Arizona State women’s basketball team.
“It’s just been my honor to be here and serve. It’s just time,” said Turner Thorne in a press conference Thursday. “I’ve had the great fortune of coaching and mentoring these young women for the past almost three decades. I’m just forever grateful for them believing in me and believing in the culture that we built here.”
"I'm retiring after 25 years. It's just been my honor to be here and serve... it's just time." - @ASUCoachCharli— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 4, 2022
ℹ️ Available to ALL via https://t.co/aWqiXyeZKu & https://t.co/7bHMYBa4SA#ForksUp | @SunDevilWBB | #Pac12WBB pic.twitter.com/6R8lxqP6AM
The most successful coach in the program’s history led the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament 14 times, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in five of those years and even reaching the Elite Eight twice. She holds 528 career victories and was also named the Coach of The Year in the Pac-12 Conference in the 2001 and 2016 seasons, the same years in which the Sun Devils won the Pac-12 regular-season championships.
At the time of her retirement, she sits behind only her former college coach, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, for the most wins in the history of the Pac-12 Conference. The legendary coach had some words regarding her former player and colleague upon hearing the news.
“There’s not any player I’ve coached who’s more competitive than Charli,” said VanDerveer. “She’s had a great career at ASU. She’s been a great competitor, a friend, someone that I really admire how hard she works and the teams that she’s put on the floor.”
Hired in 1996, Turner Thorne built the Arizona State Women’s Basketball program virtually from the ground up. Before her arrival, the Sun Devils made just three NCAA tournament appearances since its inception in the 1975-76 season. She oversaw the program through the careers of three Sun Devil Hall of Famers in Molly Tuter (1994-1997), Amanda Levens (2000-2002), and Emily Westerberg (2004-2007).
Turner Thorne’s decision to leave her coaching career behind comes after a rather disappointing season from the Sun Devils. As a projected tournament team in the preseason, ASU was hit early and often with the injury bug and managed just a 12-14 record. The team went a disappointing 4-9 in conference play before their season ended in a 59-54 loss to Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Before the COVID-19 Pandemic canceled the NCAA Tournament in 2020, Turner Thorne had the Sun Devils on track for what would’ve been a school-record seventh straight appearance in the field. That season was highlighted by back-to-back top-five victories over then No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Oregon State.
A successor in the program remains unknown at this time as ASU is unlikely to compete in any sort of postseason tournament.