Gophers head women’s tennis coach Tyler Thomson has left Minnesota to become the head coach at William and Mary, where he was an assistant from 1997-2001.
William and Mary announced the move June 21. A national search to find Thomson’s replacement at Minnesota will begin shortly.
Thomson said “a lot of factors” guided his decision — his familiarity with William and Mary, the historical success of its women’s tennis program and his and his wife’s desire to raise their kids in a smaller community.
“In general, [it’s] just a good move professionally and personally,” he said.
Thomson said he fully intended to stay at Minnesota until the opportunity at William and Mary opened up a few weeks ago. The Tribe finished 6-16 last season, after which then-head coach Meredith Geiger-Walton resigned.
William and Mary had much more success during Thomson’s assistant coaching days. The Tribe won three Colonial Athletic Association championships and made the NCAA tournament three times.
In 1999, Thomson was named the ITA East Region Assistant Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the national assistant coach of the year award.
“I do think it’s quite possible for [William and Mary] to be successful in the short term,” Thomson said. “But I also think there’s great potential in the long term as well because of the things that the school has to sell. I witnessed success at a high level when I was there previously, so I know that it’s possible.”
Thomson compiled a 111-148 record in his 11 seasons at Minnesota. He led the team to the NCAA tournament in 2012 for the first time in nine seasons, where it lost to Arizona in the first round.
Although he ended on a high note, Thomson had a winning Big Ten record only once during his tenure at Minnesota. The Gophers won the conference’s regular-season title in 2003 with a 9-1 record after finishing 1-9 in Thomson’s first year.
Thomson said the Gophers’ failures, many of which stemmed from injuries, weren’t at all a factor in his decision to leave.
“I very much loved my experience at Minnesota,” he said. “It’s a great athletics department. Very mixed emotions leaving, but it was time to move on.”