Winthrop University

Kevin Cook and Winthrop mutually part ways

Kevin Cook took Winthrop to its only NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 2014.
Kevin Cook took Winthrop to its only NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 2014. Tim Cowie/

Kevin Cook and Winthrop University have mutually agreed to part ways.

The Herald learned of the news Friday afternoon from two sources knowledgeable of the situation. A release from the school’s athletic department followed shortly after, confirming the development.

“I would like to thank Coach Cook for his years of service to our women’s basketball program,” athletic director Kenneth Halpin said in the statement from the school. “Everyone at Winthrop University wishes him the best in his future endeavors on and off the court.”

Cook’s suspension was announced in a Jan. 25 press release from the university. At the time, Halpin didn’t comment on the reasons behind the suspension, saying “what we put in the release is all we can share at this time.” Friday’s release from the school also didn’t give reason for Cook’s suspension and ultimate departure.

“I’ve successfully coached women’s basketball at many levels of competition for 30 years,” Cook said when reached by phone on Friday. “I’m looking forward to coaching again, with my integrity intact. My agreement with Winthrop and the university’s media release speak for themselves. I will add that I only hope Winthrop women’s basketball program has nothing but success.”

Cook is a former WNBA assistant coach with the Houston Comets and former head coach of the Nigeria national team. He was hired as Winthrop’s head coach in June 2012 and led the Eagles to their first NCAA tournament in 2014 and a WNIT win in 2013. He was 68-77 during his time in charge of Winthrop women’s basketball.

The Eagles are 6-51 the last two seasons, and 0-8 since interim head coach Lynette Woodard took over following Cook’s suspension in late January. Friday’s press release said Woodard will finish out the season as interim head coach.

Cook signed a contract extension two years ago that took his deal to 2018. His contract paid him $113,000 per year.

The veteran basketball coach has battled Parkinson’s Disease since 2007. He underwent a deep brain stimulation operation in mid-2015 to try and quell the tremors that resulted from his illness.

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