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BELLINGHAM -- After more than four decades as a ground-breaking director of athletics and women’s basketball coach at Western Washington University, Lynda Goodrich announced her retirement Mon., May 6.
“Under Lynda Goodrich’s guidance, WWU Athletics has enjoyed tremendous success on athletic fields and courts but also outstanding academic achievements by Western’s student-athletes,” Western President Bruce Shepard said. “Her leadership has fostered a level of athletic and academic excellence among the very best in the nation.”
During her 26 years as athletic director, the Vikings won nine team national titles, the only ones in school history, and she guided the program in stepping up from the NAIA to NCAA Division II. She coached basketball 19 seasons and had over 400 wins.
“Through Lynda’s visionary leadership, Western is a model of what athletics should be in higher education,” said Eileen Coughlin, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services. “I deeply appreciate her incredible dedication to students and to the entire university. Western is a much better place because of her.”
Goodrich will take leave to attend to family matters. Vice President Coughlin has asked Goodrich to continue working in a part-time capacity to fund raise for Athletics while also assisting in the leadership transition. Steve Card, now associate athletics director, will begin serving immediately as interim athletics director. A national search for Goodrich’s successor will begin in the fall.
During the current school year, WWU won seven Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships. Both the Viking men’s and women’s basketball teams reached the national semifinals, with women’s soccer getting to the Far West Regional final and volleyball to the regional semifinals.
“I felt like the program was in the right place for me to step down,” said Goodrich of her decision. “And for me personally it is a time to look at something new.”
WWU already has clinched a fifth straight GNAC All-Sports title and has an opportunity for a fifth consecutive top 15 placing among more than 300 Division II schools in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup National All-Sports standings. The Vikings have been among the top 100 in all-sports finishes in all 15 seasons as a NCAA II member and the last 10 years among the top 50.
Besides the move to NCAA II, Goodrich lists adding scholarships, improving facilities and hiring outstanding coaches and staff as her top accomplishments in helping move the program forward. She also has implemented a marketing program, better game management and refurbishments of Carver Gym including LED signage and a video board.
Under Goodrich’s direction, WWU student-athletes have graduated at rates well above the national average for NCAA Division II.
“The consistently strong achievements of Western student-athletes in the classroom is a testament to Lynda Goodrich’s emphasis on the importance of learning, which also reflects a broader campus culture of academic excellence,” said Brent Carbajal, WWU faculty athletic representative and dean of Western’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
When Goodrich transferred to WWU as a student in 1963, there were no true opportunities for women athletes and when she began collegiate coaching with the Vikings in 1971 the opportunities weren’t much better.
“I don’t know if today’s (women) athletes have any idea of what it was like 40 years ago,” Goodrich said.
Goodrich posted a 411-125 record in 19 seasons (1971-90) as women’s basketball coach, never having a losing season, reaching post-season play 18 times and winning 20 games 13 times. A finalist for National Division II Coach of the Year honors in 1981 and 1982, she directed the Vikings to two quarterfinal finishes at the NAIA National Tournament; and three regional titles and subsequent trips to the AIAW Nationals.
“I never thought of myself as a pioneer, but it happened that I participated and coached at the very beginning of women’s sports and Title IX. A lot has been accomplished and I helped lead the charge,” Goodrich said.
“I could not have asked for a better career or for more wonderful people at Western with whom to work,” she said.
Goodrich, who has received numerous sports administration honors, has already been inducted into five Hall of Fames. They are the NAIA, WWU Athletics, Northwest Women’s Sports, Snohomish Country Athletics and Lake Stevens High School Athletics.
Goodrich obtained bachelor’s degree in 1966 and master’s degree in 1973, both at WWU, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Western's Alumni Association in 1988.
Goodrich (third from right) is shown here with the WWU women's basketball team during her run as the team's coach (1971 to 1990). Goodrich posted a 411-125 record in 19 seasons with the team, never having a losing season, reaching post-season play 18 times and winning 20 games 13 times. Courtesy photo