Tasha Butts, the head coach of the Georgetown women’s basketball team, will temporarily step back from her coaching duties to focus on her health amid her ongoing fight against breast cancer.
Associate Head Coach Darnell Haney, whom Georgetown hired in May, will assume head coaching responsibilities in the meantime, Georgetown Athletics announced Sept. 21. Prior to starting at the Hilltop, Haney served on Jacksonville University’s coaching staff for 10 years, including as head coach from the 2018-19 season onward. Under his leadership, the Dolphins tallied a 64-75, 32-47 ASUN overall record across five seasons.
Butts, 41, found out she had metastatic breast cancer in November 2021. Her diagnosis spurred the Tasha Tough campaign, which fundraised to support cancer research and provide resources for cancer patients through the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, a non-profit that honors the life of Hall of Fame basketball coach Kay Yow.
Georgetown Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed expressed his support for Butts as she steps back from the program temporarily.
“Tasha has proven to be a coach full of passion and drive,” Georgetown Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed said in a Sept. 21 Georgetown Athletics press release. “As she battles this terrible disease, she continues to be an inspiration to our student-athletes, coaches and staff, and we will support her in this fight. Her community stretches from coast to coast, and I know that now, more than ever, we will band together to be Tasha Tough.”
“This is special to me,” Butts said of her hiring at an April 11 press conference welcoming her to the Hilltop. “It’s been a long journey but I’ve also experienced a lot of things that I’ve never thought I would stand here.”
Following the announcement of her decision, Butts received many messages of support from the college basketball community.
“The heartfelt thoughts and prayers of the entire Big East Conference are with Coach Tasha Butts as her courageous battle against cancer continues,” a Sept. 22 Big East statement read. “Her impact on the Hoyas women’s basketball program has already been felt, and we know that her strength, determination and the support of her family and the Georgetown community will serve her well as she meets this challenge.”
During her own college years, Butts established herself as a star guard for the University of Tennessee and legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summit, leading her team to a Final Four appearance in 2002 and consecutive NCAA Championship appearances in 2003 and 2004. She went on to play the 2004 WNBA season with the Minnesota Lynx before pursuing a professional career abroad.
Butts served as the associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech before her move to the Hilltop. During her four seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Butts helped coach the Yellow Jackets to consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2021 and an at-large bid in 2022 after her breast cancer diagnosis. While at Georgia Tech, Butts made a similar decision to prioritize her treatment in the immediate months following her diagnosis.
“I’ve always fought,” Butts told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after her decision to step back from some of her coaching responsibilities at Georgia Tech in Feb. 2022. “I’ve always had to fight for something. And that’s just the mentality that I wake up with every day now, is that my treatment is a part of my life. My medication is a part of my life now. My limitations may be a part of my life. But I’m going to deal with it; I’m going to fight through it. I can’t allow it to hold me back. That’s not who I am.”