Former WVU Coach Mike Carey Looking for Coaching Return; Interested in Post Left Today by Plitzuweit

By Jeff Toquinto on March 18, 2023 via

One year into her job, West Virginia University women’s Coach Dawn Plitzuweit informed Athletic Director Wren Baker that she would be leaving the program.
Plitzuweit, who led WVU to a 19-12 record and a NCAA Tournament bid, saw her Mountaineers fall in the opening round of the tournament to Arizona. Shortly thereafter, rumors began to surface she was in line for the vacant position at Minnesota and the rumors for the Wisconsin native proved true.
Now, the question is who is next. Baker has said a search will begin immediately and speculation has already begun on news Web sites and across social media for who is next. One name that hopes to be in the mix is a name some may not be thinking about – Clarksburg native and the coach Plitzuweit replaced, Mike Carey.
Carey confirmed to Connect-Bridgeport that he would love the opportunity to return to the West Virginia University bench. He spent 21 years there posting a 447-239 (.652) overall record and a 189-168 (.529) in Big East and Big 12 play.
“After taking this year off, I’m ready to get back into coaching,” said Carey. “I think it’s obvious I love West Virginia University and the State of West Virginia. I would definitely be interested in taking the position if offered, but I’d also look at other positions in others area and other states.”
Carey stepped down last year after coaching for 40 years, the majority of it at the college ranks. He began his career in 1983 at Flemington High School and also coached boys and girls varsity basketball at Liberty High School before beginning a 13-year stint at what today is Salem International University.
“I found out really quick I missed coaching and I still have the fire to coach,” said Carey.
Where he really found that out was by sitting in the stands of games where his son Craig coached women’s basketball as the interim head coach for Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and his oldest son Chris was serving as an assistant for the Bridgeport High School boys varsity team.
“I found myself breaking down things, particularly at Craig’s games, offensively, defensively, and even out of bounds plays,” said Carey. “I even wrote stuff down so I could send it to him later because no coach wants to hear something like that after a game. I’d have my wife take a picture of my notes and send it to him.
“Every game, I knew I wanted to be back. If you have the fire, you know it,” he continued. “I still would love to coach.”
That, of course, leads to the question of why did he retire? Carey said it was the right thing to do at the time.
“In my last year, with the past administration, it wasn’t a good situation and I felt it was to get out from under it. It was better for me, and it was better for them, to go our separate ways,” said Carey.
Carey said he definitely will reach out to WVU officials about his interest. He said he hopes his knowledge and experience will get them to look in his direction.
“I understand the situation where they may want to go with a younger coach or with someone else. I know some may think at my age (64) it may be tough, but I’m in great health and have a lot of years left,” said Carey. “I still have energy to go another seven to 10 years.”
Carey said he wants to get back into the business in Morgantown or any other destination and it has nothing to do with money. He said he has no concerns there, but misses the game.
“I enjoy coaching. I enjoy the teaching, and I miss the game. The other big thing is my wife doesn’t like me being retired,” he said with a laugh.
The decision of who is next will be the initial major coaching hire made by first-year AD Baker. Baker commented on finding a replacement today.
“Our student-athletes deserve the best, and we will immediately begin a national search for our next head coach. We have a proud tradition, and our program is well positioned for the future,” said Baker. “I am confident we will identify an outstanding leader to build on our success and take WVU women’s basketball to even greater heights.”
Carey took over a team that had won just five games and proceeded to 14-14 in his first season. He led WVU to 11 NCAA Tournaments, five WNIT appearances and 13 straight postseason appearances from 2007-19, which is a program record.
Carey’s teams advanced to the NCAA second round 10 times. His teams reached the WNIT championship game twice.
According to information from WVU, he was named Big East Conference Coach of the Year in 2004 after posting a 21-11 overall record with a 10-6 league mark, and again in 2010 after a 29-6 season and a 13-3 Big East record. Carey garnered Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2014, when he guided the Mountaineers to a school-record 30-5 season and a 16-2 conference record.
Carey is the all-time winningest coach in WVU women’s basketball history with a 447-239 record (.652) and has compiled an overall record of 735-341 (.683), counting 13 seasons as men’s coach at Salem where he went 288-102 (.738).
At West Virginia, he won a Big 12 Conference regular-season title in 2014 and a tournament championship in 2017. In his 21 seasons at WVU, he coached 10 players who earned 20 All-America honors, 74 all-conference performers, 10 WNBA players and 20 Mountaineers who eclipsed 1,000 career points.
Carey’s WVU teams defeated 45 ranked opponents, including seven in the Top 10, and were ranked a combined 131 weeks during his tenure. He took over a WVU program that was 5-22 the year before and immediately won 50 games in his first three seasons including a 21-win season and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in year three. He had 14 seasons of 20 or more wins, including the 30-5 school-record season in 2014.
West Virginia women’s basketball has reached the postseason 19 times, with 16 of those appearances coming under Carey’s leadership. Eleven of WVU’s 13 NCAA appearances have come under Carey, and he finishes his WVU career with 18 winning seasons out of 21 campaigns.
Editor's Note: Photos courtesy of WVU Athletics, office of Sports Communications. Top photo by Dale Sparks.

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