Bud Childers, Winthrop's women's basketball coach for the past seven seasons, has agreed to give up his coaching duties after the Big South Conference tournament this weekend.
A statement issued by the Winthrop athletic department late Wednesday afternoon said Winthrop Athletic Director Tom Hickman and Childers agreed on the coach stepping down. Childers will be reassigned within the athletic department for the remainder of his contract, which runs through June, according to the same statement.
"During his tenure, coach Childers has raised the overall talent level of the women's basketball team as evidenced by the number of his players who have gone on to play professionally overseas," Hickman said.
"The state of our women's basketball program now is better than when coach Childers arrived. The work and dedication that coach Childers has shown in his efforts with the women's basketball program and the athletic department are much appreciated. He has been a supporter of all the Winthrop teams, not just Winthrop basketball."
Childers' 83 wins places him atop the school's all-time list for career coaching victories. He is 83-130 (.390) at Winthrop going into Friday's conference tournament game. His team is the No. 7 seed and will play second-seeded Radford.
Childers has a career coaching record of 468-369 (.559).
The coach released the following statement.
"During the past few weeks my family and I have had many discussions as to what we feel would be best for the future of both the Winthrop women's basketball program and our family.
"We have really enjoyed our time here at Winthrop, made many good friends, and feel we have made a positive contribution to both the community and to the athletics program. With that being said, however, I feel it is time for me to step aside as the coach here. It is time for someone new to take the reins of the program and build on the foundation we laid these past few years."
Childers took over a Winthrop program that was in disarray. The Lady Eagles had finished in the bottom half of the league standings for eight consecutive seasons and had a losing overall record every year since the program's inception in 1986-87.
In Childers' second season the team finished fourth in the regular season standings. In his fourth year, the team finished third, won 20 games and enjoyed its first winning season.
The high point of Childers' time came in a 56-52 win in the 2007-08 season at the Winthrop Coliseum over perennial Big South power Liberty.
Much was expected from the 2008-09 squad. Nearly the entire team returned from the 20-win season. The Lady Eagles played in the NIT but finished with a 16-16 mark. The team slid to sixth place in the Big South in 2009-10.
This year, the team went 5-11 in conference play and is 12-17 overall. Before the season began, the team lost a pair of promising freshmen to knee injuries.
Childers said Wednesday that his players were excited about how good the team could be until those injuries occurred. When the team learned both the injuries were season-ending, they seemed to lose hope.
Winthrop struggled to win games, or fans, at home this season. The team was 6-10 on its home floor where attendance averaged just 330 per game.
The Lady Eagles lost by 30 to Division II Lander and by 37 to NAIA-member Southern Poly State, 53-16 on Dec. 12. In late January the team fell to Coastal Carolina 48-29 at the Winthrop Coliseum, followed by a 70-33 loss to Liberty.
Winthrop will begin an immediate search for a successor to Childers.