SCHENECTADY — Mary Ellen Burt, who has led the Union College women’s basketball program since 1995, is stepping down from her position guiding the team.
The school announced Burt’s retirement from the post Thursday afternoon.
“For the past 26 years, I have been fortunate to be the caretaker of the Union College women’s basketball program,” said Burt said in a statement released through the school’s athletic department. “It’s been a daily commitment to the players and the program to enhance and maintain our team culture and standards.”
In her 26 years leading the program, Burt won 344 games and led Union to its only berth in the NCAA Division III tournament in 2004. Burt ends her tenure as Union’s women’s basketball coach with more wins in one sport than any other coach in school history.
“But I think the statistic I am most proud of is that every player that was in the program for four years graduated in four years,” Burt said. “Our team GPA was always at or near the top of the athletics department. It’s great to stay in touch with so many players, attend their weddings and see their kids growing up on Facebook. I can’t thank the players enough for all the hard work and laughs they provided on a daily basis.”
Burt will remain as Union’s women’s golf head coach. Burt helped start that program, and has been that team’s only coach since it started play in 2012.
“Now is the right time to turn the [basketball] program over to the next caretaker to move the program to the next level,” Burt said. “I am thrilled to be staying at Union College as the golf coach and look forward to continuing to build that program.”
“I want to congratulate Mary Ellen on an outstanding career and can’t thank her enough for her leadership both on and off the court over the last 25-plus seasons leading the women’s basketball team,” Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin said. “She truly embraced her role as a teacher, mentor and educator for the countless student-athletes that came through this program, and we are fortunate that she will remain with the department in the future continuing to lead our golf team.”
A national search will identify the school’s next women’s basketball head coach.
“I would sincerely like to thank my assistant coaches over the years, especially Jamie Seward, Mike Smith and Jared Zeidman,” Burt said. “These three coaches have stretched my entire career at Union and the successes of the program could not have been accomplished without them. Not only were we a staff, but we continue to be great friends. They joined me with the vision for the program and the commitment to the word ‘Arete’ that was always the backbone of our coaching philosophy: be the best you can be at whatever you are doing.”
Union didn’t play any games during the 2020-21 season because of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Burt’s final game guiding Union was a 62-55 defeat against Clarkson on Feb. 22, 2020.