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Maryland women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese signs contract extension through 2026-27

Maryland signed Brenda Frese, a model of consistency with the Terps, to a contract extension to remain the women’s basketball coach through the 2026-27 season.

Athletic director Damon Evans announced the agreement Tuesday morning, which includes an option for an additional one-year extension for the 2027-28 season. The six-year contract will pay an annual salary of $1.4 million and becomes effective this month.

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“You guys are stuck with me,” Frese said.

Evans said he wanted Frese leading the Terps for many years to come.

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“Coach Frese’s teams have shown unprecedented success in the Big Ten and have sustained success among the nation’s best,” Evans said in a news release. “Her program is a model for many because the student-athletes she brings to Maryland are simply the best of the best.”

Frese remembers the young woman from Iowa who arrived in College Park nearly 20 seasons ago, bright-eyed and with no expectations of how long she’d stay. Before then, she made three moves in four years (which she wouldn’t recommend to anyone).

She had hoped this would be the place she called home.

With that option through the 2027-28 season, Frese would tie Chris Weller at 27 seasons for the longest-tenured Maryland women’s basketball coach.

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“I think sometimes it’s easier to climb to the top but it’s a lot harder to stay on the top when you’re the hunted,” Frese said.

The Associated Press, ESPN and The Athletic named Frese the National Coach of the Year this past season. The coach earned the honor for the second time in her 19-season career with the Terps after guiding Maryland to its best scoring season in program history with 90.8 points per game, its sixth Big Ten crown in seven years and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Terps lost, 64-61, to Texas in the third round.

Frese, who has led Maryland to 17 NCAA tournament appearances and 14 conference championships, is one of only four coaches to earn multiple AP Women’s Coach of the Year honors since its inception in 1995. Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, Kim Mulkey, the former Baylor coach now at LSU, and Muffet McGraw, the former longtime Notre Dame coach, are the others.

Frese also was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the fourth time this year.

She won’t pride herself in all those accomplishments, though. Resting on your laurels keeps you from where you should be, the coach said, and she feels more gratitude in the support leadership has shown her.

“I’m really proud of the consistency this program has been able to uphold,” Frese said, thanking Evans, president Darryll Pines and deputy athletic director Colleen Sorem. “I consider myself a consistent person, and it means a lot to continue to hold this program at a really high level because that’s where Maryland belongs.”

Winning the national title in 2006 helped Frese bolster her confidence as a head coach of a significant Division I program. But it was in the recruiting trenches that she truly came into her own. Battling against the likes of Auriemma and famed Tennessee coach Pat Summitt for top prospects such as future WNBA stars Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman raised Frese up in the pantheon of women’s basketball coaches.

“I definitely gained confidence in that way. When you get to that national stage with that kind of talent and those kind of players, any coach can show you that you can coach,” Frese said. “It evolved, that silent inner belief.”

As Frese built Maryland, her life blossomed, too. She met her husband, Mark, here and had twins, Markus and Tyler. She knows few college coaches get this.

“There’s no greater gift to be able to give your family than stability,” Frese said.

It didn’t matter that Maryland bid farewell to five starters after graduation before the 2020-21 season. Under Frese’s hand, the Terps quickly meshed to go 26-3 overall and drop just one Big Ten game. During the season, Frese earned her 500th win at Maryland, becoming the winningest coach in program history with a current record of 512-131 with the Terps.

Maryland coach Brenda Frese celebrates after winning the Big Ten regular-season title with a victory against Penn State on March 6, 2021, in College Park.
Maryland coach Brenda Frese celebrates after winning the Big Ten regular-season title with a victory against Penn State on March 6, 2021, in College Park. (Terrance Williams/AP)

Several Terps won postseason awards and a few — Diamond Miller, Ashley Owusu, Angel Reese and Taisiya Kozlova (Russian Basketball Federation) — are participating in national team trials.

Frese has the chance to grow alongside that group. The entire roster is expected to return this season, with more experience as well. Many of those players will continue to play for Maryland for the next couple years.

That’s an exciting prospect for Frese, and an uncommon one. Many teams face the revolving door the transfer portal has opened.

“To be able to have that continuity and that stability within a team is really important, so I’m excited to be able to see what we can build upon with this group,” Frese said.

In addition, 100% of Frese’s players at College Park have graduated and 16 have been drafted into the WNBA. Five alone currently play for the Connecticut Sun. Many of the current Terps may soon join those professional teams, Frese said.

“Maryland attracts phenomenal players. You can see that in the past and what lies ahead for the future,” Frese said. “I’m grateful to those student-athletes that understand the vision.”

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