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Gail Goestenkors, who coached the Duke women’s basketball team to four Final Four appearances and Texas to five straight NCAA Tournaments, is joining Kyra Elzy’s coaching staff at Kentucky as an assistant.

UK officially announced the hiring of Goestenkors — who in 2015 was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame — Monday morning.

A Michigan native, Goestenkors, 58, spent the 2020-21 season as the associate head coach at Central Michigan.

“I am very excited to join the Kentucky women’s basketball family and cannot wait to experience Big Blue Nation first hand this fall,” Goestenkors said in a UK news release. “This program has had so much success over the last decade and I am looking forward to continuing that success. Coach Elzy has a clear vision where she wants to take this program and I feel that same energy from the players and staff. I am thankful Coach Elzy has made me part of the Wildcat Family and cannot wait to get on the court and get to work.”

From 1992 through 2007, Goestenkors built Duke into an elite program. She led the Blue Devils to the NCAA Tournament the final 13 years of her tenure, including Final Four trips in 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2006.

In both 1999 and 2006, the Blue Devils finished as the national runner-up, losing to Purdue in the 1999 NCAA championship game and to Maryland in 2006.

After the 2006-07 season, Goestenkors surprised the women’s hoops world by leaving the highly successful program she had built at Duke — the Blue Devils went a robust 396-99 during her tenure — to become head coach at Texas.

In Austin, Goestenkors could not replicate her ultra-successful run at Duke.

She led the Longhorns to the NCAA Tournament in each of her five seasons as head coach but never reached the round of 16. Goestenkors stepped down as Texas coach after the 2011-12 season having gone 102-64.

Since giving up the head coaching job at Texas, Goestenkors has logged time as a WNBA assistant with the Los Angeles Sparks and the Indiana Fever and also worked as a consultant and women’s hoops television analyst.

Upon accepting the assistant’s job at Central Michigan last August, Goestenkors told The Detroit News that she had felt the urge to return to college coaching “a couple of summers ago” with the original idea being to pursue head coaching positions.

When she could not find the right fit, Goestenkors told the Detroit newspaper that she then decided she would be open to working as an assistant.

After her ex-husband, Mark Simons, decided to retire as a CMU assistant, Goestenkors was hired to replace him.

Central Michigan went 18-9 this past season, won the Mid-American Conference Tournament, and lost to Iowa in the NCAA Tournament round of 64.

The Hawkeyes ended Kentucky’s season, too, pinning an 86-72 loss on the Wildcats in the NCAA round of 32.

When longtime Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell made the surprise decision to resign only days before last season was to tip off, veteran UK assistant Elzy was elevated to replace him, first on an interim basis and then permanently.

The Wildcats turned in an uneven season in Elzy’s first year as head coach. On the plus side, Kentucky’s five victories (5-6) over ranked teams were the most for the Cats since 2015-16. Kentucky’s No. 4 seed in the NCAA tourney was its best since 2017.

But picked by the SEC coaches in the preseason to finish second in the conference, Kentucky instead ended up fifth.

The Cats did not play well down the stretch, going 3-4 in their final seven games. UK bowed out of both the SEC Tournament (a 12-point loss to Georgia in the quarterfinals) and the NCAA tourney (the 14-point defeat to Iowa) with double-digit setbacks.

After Elzy was elevated to the top job, UK’s director of player development, Daniel Boice, was made an interim assistant coach. He joined holdover assistants Niya Butts and Amber Smith on Elzy’s first coaching staff.

Now, Goestenkors — a seven-time ACC Coach of the Year and and an assistant with Team USA in gold-medal-winning efforts at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games — will bring one of the more impressive resumes in women’s college basketball to the role as Elzy’s aide.

“Gail will bring a winning pedigree to Lexington as a proven coach collegiately, professionally and on the international stage with USA Basketball,” Elzy said in the UK news release. “I love Gail’s passion for the game of basketball. When you combine that with her desire and track record of developing players, I know she is going to be a dynamic addition to our staff.”

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