The Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball team fought valiantly at #12 Kentucky Sunday. Despite having only seven players available, Vandy led 69-65 with only 5:04 to play, but ultimately Wildcats stormed back to escape with a 80-73 win.
On Monday, the team finally decided it just couldn’t go with so few bodies available. In what appears to be a student-driven decision, the women’s basketball team announced they would discontinue the season due to their decimated roster.
An inordinate number of injuries and COVID-19 opt-outs left only seven players remaining on the active roster. This includes sophomore forward Kyndall Golden, who was playing limited minutes after recovering from a torn ACL that caused her to miss most of her freshman year.
Sophomore Demi Washington had to miss the season when she was diagnosed with myocarditis after a COVID-19 infection. Junior Brinae Alexander, senior Autumn Newby, and sophomore Kia Pearl opted out of the season.
It was just reported this weekend that South Florida transfer Enna Pehadzic would miss the remainder of the season with injury, while junior Jordyn Cambridge and sophomore Kaylon Smith have also missed time dealing with injuries.
“As a staff we have and will always prioritize the health and safety our student-athletes,” according to head coach Stephanie White per vucommodores.com. “We are coaching a group of young women who have been resilient in dealing with opt-outs, injuries, COVID-19 protocols as well as the physical, mental and emotional toll that comes with COVID-19. We respect our student-athletes’ decision and support them as we continue to move forward.”
“We fully support and respect the decision of our student-athletes. Their health, safety and well-being have always been, and will continue to be, a top priority,” said Vandy AD Candice Lee, per vucommodores.com. “We know that this was a tough call for them, in a year full of tough calls, and a disappointing outcome for the student-athletes and the program.”
Vandy finishes the season with a 4-4 record, 0-3 in the SEC.
White has long been considered to be on the proverbial coaching hot seat, and it remains to be seen how this abbreviated season will affect her job status. Her record sits at 46-83 overall, including a dismal 13-54 in the SEC. Her coaching tenure has set program records in losing and futility. The fanbase has eroded, and right or wrong many traditional fans have been turned off to the program because of the social justice messages as much as the losing.
Because Vanderbilt is a private institution, the terms of her contract are unavailable. There is a line of thinking that this should be a mulligan year given the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic, but that didn’t save Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason from being fired. Candice Lee actually played for this program, so one might assume of all Vandy sports this one would be near and dear to her heart. We will all have to wait and wonder if White has coached her last game at Vandy…