Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer is expected to be named today to coach a soon-to-be-formed United States team that will play together for over a year in preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
VanDerveer, who won national championships in 1990 and 1992 and guided the Cardinal to the Final Four last weekend and coached the U.S. team to a gold medal at last year's Goodwill Games, is to be named today at a news conference in Palo Alto, Calif., according to a source familiar with the selection.
VanDerveer, whose career coaching record is 403-113 in 17 seasons, apparently will leave Stanford for a year to train the U.S. team, but she also would be the overwhelming favorite to coach the national squad in the Olympics.
VanDerveer, a finalist for the job along with North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell and Iowa's Vivian Stringer, could not be reached for comment.
The appointment of a coach is the first step in revamping the selection process in the hopes of improving the Olympic fortunes of the United States, which has won only two of the five gold medals awarded for women's basketball, including bronze in 1992, when the American team was heavily favored to win.
"We'll have to evaluate the process once we win the gold. We'll have to see if this works, but this was the only thing we could do to prepare on the same level that other countries do," said Susan Blackwood, vice president for women of USA Basketball's executive committee.
USA Basketball will pick an initial team of 10 former college players from 56 invitees during tryouts next month at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., with two slots left, potentially for current collegians.
The team will play top colleges during the exhibition season, foreign teams over the winter and conference all-star teams next spring.
Each player will be paid approximately $50,000 for the year.