|St. Norbert athletics photo
St. Norbert women’s basketball coach Connie Tilley has announced she will retire at the conclusion of 2018-19 season, her 42nd at the helm of the Green Knights.
“These types of decisions are always difficult to make, especially when thinking about so many different people and moments during my career here,” Tilley said. “Retirement will certainly be a different experience.
“I enjoy being around the women on this year’s team on a daily basis. The next coach will have a solid group of young women to work with and be able to immediately add a new chapter to our tradition.”
Tilley was hired in 1977 by then-St. Norbert athletics director Mel Nicks and was virtually responsible for building women’s athletics from the ground up into the perennially strong program it remains today. Tilley coached women’s basketball for 42 years, women’s softball for 13 years, women’s volleyball for nine seasons and also had stints coaching men’s and women’s golf. The Green Knights have won a record 15 Midwest Conference Women’s All-Sports Trophies since joining the league full-time in 1983-84.
“St. Norbert College will be forever indebted to Connie’s contributions to our athletic department and the college as a whole,” St. Norbert president Brian Bruess said. “She has affected literally thousands of students during her career, exemplifying the Norbertine tradition of self-emptying service.”
Inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2015, Tilley is currently seventh all-time in Division III women's basketball coaching wins. Through Jan. 2, Tilley has a 684-307 career record and led St. Norbert to 18 conference titles, 14 Division III NCAA Tournament appearances and one Final Four in 1985. Four of her basketball teams advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament Sweet 16, most recently in 2003. Tilley is Wisconsin’s all-time winningest collegiate women's basketball coach.
In December 2017, the school levied a 10-game suspension against the program due to a violation of institutional policy stemming from an on-campus alcohol-related incident involving a number of players. This year's Green Knights are 2-11 through Saturday, Jan. 5.
A Beloit, Wisconsin, native, Tilley piloted the softball program to a Midwest Conference title in 1991, which she still cites as a career highlight. Women’s volleyball also won five conference championships under her supervision. Tilley is also an assistant athletics director and has also spent time as the senior woman administrator and chair of the physical education department.
“A pioneer in women’s intercollegiate athletics, Connie has been a consistent winner while coaching in five different decades,” St. Norbert athletics director Tim Bald said. “Connie’s achievements speak for itself, and we will always be grateful for what she has built and accomplished.”
During the 2008-09 season, St. Norbert College named the playing court in the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center “Connie Tilley Court” in her honor.
Her career record in all sports combined is 1,012-505 for a .667 winning percentage with 24 overall conference titles. In 61 sports seasons, Tilley has had only five records below .500. Her softball (1983-95) mark was 200-121 and volleyball (1977-85) ledger was 143-64.
Bald said a national search for a new women’s basketball coach – St. Norbert’s first since the Carter Administration – will begin at the end of the season.