Sheryl Swoopes, who is regarded as one of the greatest female athletes of all time, has been named head women’s basketball coach at Loyola University Chicago, it was announced on Friday by Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. M. Grace Calhoun. A four-time WNBA champion, NCAA champion, and three-time Olympic gold medalist, the Brownfield, Texas native wrapped up her professional playing career in 2011.

“We are thrilled to welcome Sheryl Swoopes to the Loyola family. She is a proven winner at every level of competition, and a respected mentor of young women. Beyond her unparalleled competitive success, her vision for Loyola women’s basketball, knowledge of the game and industry, and infectious energy left us confident Sheryl will build Rambler women’s basketball into a perennial national contender,” Calhoun says.

In two remarkable seasons at Texas Tech University (1991-93), Swoopes led the Red Raiders to the 1993 NCAA championship and was named Naismith National Player of the Year that season, just two years removed from capturing Junior College Player of the Year accolades at South Plains Junior College in Texas. The high-scoring forward set a NCAA Championship game record by totaling 47 points in Texas Tech’s 84-82 victory over Ohio State in the 1993 NCAA title game and for her efforts was named NCAA Final Four MVP. Swoopes’s career average of 24.9 points per game still stands as Texas Tech’s career standard and she also ripped down 8.0 rpg. In a 1993 contest versus rival Texas, she poured in 53 points, a total that ranked 12th in NCAA single-game history entering the 2012-13 campaign.

Following her standout career at Texas Tech, Swoopes embarked on a highly decorated tenure as a professional player, beginning with a stint overseas before the formation of the WNBA lured her back to the United States. One of the WNBA’s original players, Swoopes was assigned to the Houston Comets in the first player allocations in 1997 and thus began a WNBA career that saw her also make stops with the Seattle Storm and Tulsa Shock.

The first player ever to be named WNBA Most Valuable Player three times (2000, 2002, 2005) and chosen Defensive Player of the Year on three occasions (2000, 2002, 2003), Swoopes was a five-time All-WNBA First Team pick and was chosen WNBA All-Star Game MVP in 2005. A six-time all-star, Swoopes averaged 15.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.0 steals per game in her 12-year WNBA career. Her 4,875 career points places her 12th on the WNBA’s all-time scoring chart.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to be chosen to lead the Loyola University Chicago women’s basketball program,” Swoopes says. “Loyola is a special place and I immediately felt welcome here. Having played for some of the game’s best coaches as well as with and against some of the most talented players in women’s basketball history, I have broadened my knowledge and hope to use those experiences to bring championships to Rogers Park. There is a lot of talent already in place and I cannot wait to get into the gym and get started.”

The first woman to have her own Nike basketball shoe named after her (Air Swoopes), Swoopes was a member of the gold medal winning USA Olympic teams in 1996 (Atlanta), 2000 (Sydney), and 2004 (Athens).

Swoopes was an assistant girls basketball coach at Mercer Island High School in 2010 and most recently served as a television analyst for Texas Tech women’s basketball games during the 2012-13 season.

Swoopes was formally introduced to the Loyola community and media at an 11 a.m. press conference on Monday, April 15.