One month after hiring former Michigan coach Jim Beilein as head coach, the Cleveland Cavaliers made another coaching splash at the collegiate level — and this one was historic on a number of levels.
On Wednesday, the Cavs hired former Cal women’s basketball head coach Lindsay Gottlieb as an assistant on Beilein’s staff, making Gottlieb the first women’s collegiate head coach to be recruited to an NBA staff.
“Today I was able to realize a lifelong dream as I accepted a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA,” Gottlieb said in a statement released by Cal Athletics. “For the better part of 15 years, I have been able to call the University of California home. The ability to be the head coach at Cal, to mentor and impact young women, has been the greatest honor and privilege.”
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Gottlieb is expected to sign a four-year deal with Cleveland, becoming the seventh current female assistant coach in the NBA.
In eight seasons as head coach, Gottlieb led the Bears to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including the program’s only Final Four appearance in 2013. Overall, her resume in Berkeley includes a 179-89 record and six players selected in the WNBA draft since 2012-13.
“We are so proud of all that Lindsay has accomplished and contributed to our women’s basketball program,” said Cal Athletic Director Jim Knowlton in a press release. “She has been an exceptional leader and developer of young people. This is a tremendous opportunity, and we are thankful for her impact on our program, our university and our community. We wish her the best in the NBA.”
Since assuming his position in 2014, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has prioritized a leaguewide drive toward gender equality. Both Gottlieb’s experience and credentials are unprecedented among female coaches at the NBA level.
“I am excited to have a coach with Lindsay’s experience as a part of the new coaching staff with the Cavaliers,” Beilein said in a statement released by the Cavaliers. “Lindsay truly values and embraces player development and a culture of winning basketball habits. Her success at Cal Berkeley speaks for itself and her insight in our meetings, practices and games will hold tremendous value.”
Kai Felton, an assistant under Gottlieb throughout her tenure at Cal, will assume the role of interim head coach for the Bears while the campus begins a national search for Gottlieb’s replacement.