Philadelphia Patrick Knapp has been named the women’s basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania. Knapp, who hails from Roslyn, Pa. and was a four-year letterwinner in basketball at Widener, comes to Philadelphia after spending 18 seasons as the Georgetown women's basketball coach.
“We are delighted that a coach of Patrick’s caliber is coming to Penn to serve as our women’s basketball coach,” Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky, W’71 said. “His strong ties to the Philadelphia area, as well as his experience coaching against nationally-ranked teams on an annual basis should provide our women’s basketball program with a great leader who will continue the success that Penn has earned in the Ivy League over the past five years.”
In four of the last six years, Knapp's teams have advanced to the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). His teams have won at least 17 games six times at Georgetown, including four of the last eight seasons, and have advanced to postseason play five times. Knapp has twice won 20 games at Georgetown and has won two BIG EAST regular season championships since arriving in Washington DC in 1986. He has a 293-303 overall mark in 21 years as a head coach and was 248-264 at Georgetown.
“I am well aware of the prestige of Penn and the Ivy League, and am excited to join in and be a part of it,” Knapp said. “I am also very cognizant of the other league we are in the Philadelphia Big 5. That is a passion of mine and I am really excited to start competing in that unique conference as well.
“Most importantly, I am excited to be able to coach and work with the level of student-athlete that Penn attracts,” Knapp continued. “I am extremely impressed with the student-athletes I have met so far and I am not surprised at all by what they, and the coaching staff, have done in the Ivy League. I hope to keep that type of success going in the future.”
Knapp helped Georgetown earn its first conference title in 1992-93, which still stands as one of the most memorable in Georgetown women’s basketball history. The Hoyas finished the year with a 23-7 overall record and a 15-3 mark in the BIG EAST, setting school records for overall wins in a single season and in league play. The Hoyas won the BIG EAST Regular Season Championship and earned their first NCAA appearance. Knapp’s squad defeated Northern Illinois and nationally-ranked Penn State in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the “Sweet 16”. The Hoyas’ storybook season ended with a loss at Virginia. For his efforts, Knapp was voted the 1992-93 BIG EAST Coach of the Year. He was also the recipient of Georgetown’s Outstanding Coaching Achievement Award and his team was named the ECAC Women's Basketball Team of the Year. The success of the 1992-93 campaign came on the heels of an outstanding season in 1991-92. During that year, Georgetown amassed a 20-8 mark and became just the second Hoya team to reach the 20-win plateau. It was the first time that the women’s basketball program had ever had back-to-back 20-win seasons.
“This is such a great coup for Penn,” Legendary Immaculata and Hall of Fame Coach Cathy Rush said. “Patrick has over 20 years of head coaching experience from arguably the toughest conference in the NCAA, and for him to see the great opportunity that there is for Penn to make an even bigger impact on both the Ivy League and the rest of NCAA Division I, shows how far the Penn program has come.”
"I don’t think anyone approaches their job with as much passion and intensity as Pat,” Five-time National Champion Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma said. “Ever since I have known him, he has wanted to coach the game of basketball. He is a hard worker and recruits the kind of kids at Georgetown that can also be successful at Penn. I am happy for him as a friend and thrilled for him professionally.”
Before becoming head coach at Georgetown, Knapp turned the women’s basketball program around at New Mexico State University, where he served as head women’s basketball coach for three seasons. In that time, he turned the Roadrunner program into a conference title contender. His overall record of 45-39 at New Mexico State included a 20-8 mark in his last season. He was named High Country Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for the 1984-85 campaign.
Knapp’s coaching career began in 1976 at Bishop McDevitt High School in Philadelphia. He spent four years there and was named the Montgomery County Coach of the Year in 1978-79. He then took his coaching talents to the collegiate level when he became the top assistant at the University of Notre Dame for three seasons.
“This is a great move for Pat to return to Philly,” Notre Dame Head Coach Muffett McGraw said. “Philadelphia has been home to so many great coaches; it’s great that he is getting the chance to return home. Pat did an outstanding job at Georgetown. He understands the importance of recruiting student-athletes who are the right fit - kids that want to succeed both academically and athletically - in the program and in the University. He’ll do a great job at Penn.”
Knapp graduated from Widener College in 1975. He was a team captain in 1974 and 1975 at Widener and led the Pioneers to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1972 and 1975. A Pennsylvania native, Knapp and his wife Maggie have two children, Melanie Lynne and Patrick.
Knapp inherits a Penn women's basketball team that is coming off its second Ivy League title in four years in 2003-04. The Quakers compiled a 17-11 overall record and an 11-3 mark en route to the Ancient Eight crown and returns five seniors to the squad in 2004-05.
High School - Bishop McDevitt, Wyncote, Pa.
College Career - Four-year letterman, Widener, 1971-1975
College Degree - B.A. in History and Education, Widener, 1975
Coaching Career -
Head Coach, Bishop McDevitt High School, 1976-80
Assistant Coach, Notre Dame, 1980-83
Head Coach, New Mexico State, 1983-86
Head Coach, Georgetown, 1986-2004
Written by Carla Zighelboim