For the past 16-plus years, University of South Florida's Jose Fernandez has built a strong women's college basketball program in Tampa, notching many historic firsts along the way. Fernandez led the Bulls to their first NCAA Tournament in 2006. In total, he has coached the team to 12 postseason tournaments and is the program's winningest basketball coach.
On Tuesday, the Miami native reached another lofty goal: 300 wins as coach.
USF (AP ranked #23, USA Today ranked #22) defeated Memphis on Tuesday night to achieve the milestone. “I've been here 17 years so I should be able to have won a lot of games,” Fernandez told the Tampa Bay Times last weekend.
Fernandez first arrived at USF in 2000 as an assistant coach, stepping in and taking the reins of the team after a racial discrimination controversy claimed Jerry Ann Winters' job, the predecessor whose staff he had barely joined. At the time, Fernandez was 29 years old and stepping into his first ever head coaching job at the collegiate level.
After the team finished 4-24 in his debut season, Fernandez has racked up seven seasons with more than 20 wins, including a 27-8 high watermark during the 2014-15 season, a season in which USF reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament following a win over LSU.
Coming into the 2016-17 season, Fernandez had already become USF's top basketball win getter regardless of representing the men's or women's side of the program. This season, the Bulls have been consistently ranked among the top 25 teams under Fernandez's tutelage, with a return to the postseason looking likely barring an unexpected drop later this season. It would be their fourth NCAA Tournament berth in the past five seasons.