Georgetown University hired Tasha Butts, the former associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, to lead Georgetown women’s basketball into a new competitive era as the next head coach of the team.
Butts is looking to rebuild the program after several seasons of persistent struggles in a tough Big East Conference. The university declined to renew former Head Coach James Howard’s contract after his lackluster six-year tenure, which ended with four consecutive losing seasons.
“We’ve found the perfect leader at the perfect time in Tasha Butts,” Georgetown Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed said at an April 11 press conference to welcome Butts to the Hilltop.
Butts joins the Hoyas with a breadth of playing and coaching experience. She rose to women’s basketball fame as a star guard at the University of Tennessee under legendary coach Pat Summitt, and after posting a 124-17 overall record over her four collegiate years, Butts went on to play the 2004 WNBA season with the Minnesota Lynx before moving to compete professionally overseas.
Butts returned to the NCAA for the 2007-08 season in an assistant coach role, eventually landing stints at Duquesne University, UCLA and Louisiana State University. She joined the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets as an assistant coach in April 2019 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2021. During her four years with the Yellow Jackets, Butts helped to coach Georgia Tech to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2021 and an at-large bid in 2022.
Butts told The Hoya that her coaching experience at these universities has prepared her well for the tall task of transforming Georgetown’s program.
“Each one of those schools that I’ve been at, we’ve always had to rebuild the program,” Butts said in an interview with The Hoya. “We’ve always had to hit the ground running and change the culture of the program. That’s exactly what we have to do here. We’ve gotta rejuvenate the excitement around Georgetown women’s basketball.”
At a time when women’s college basketball is finally getting the recognition that it deserves, Butts’ hiring will revitalize a tired Georgetown team, Reed said.
“This is a great time for the game of women’s basketball,” Reed said at the press conference. “The support and excitement are growing nationally, and certainly within the Big East Conference. It is past time for Georgetown University to become a program that competes for Big East and national championships.”
Reed said Butts’ personal values perfectly align with the program’s needs during its rebuilding stage.
“Coach Butts truly embodies Georgetown’s tenet of cura personalis in the challenges she has seen both in the game of basketball and in her personal life,” Reed said at the press conference. “With each setback she has fought back and come back stronger than before. It is for this reason that I am certain she can inject toughness and attitude into our women’s basketball program.”
Butts was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2021. Her courage through adversity and community activism through the power of sport was recognized with the Institute for Sport and Social Justice’s Giant Steps Award.
Rebuilding the program will start with working behind the scenes to foster a winning culture at Georgetown, Butts said.
“I wanna make sure that our young ladies understand that we’re gonna be a competitive team, and we’re gonna compete in every single thing that we do, not just games,” Butts said. “In practice, we’re gonna compete. In the classroom, if we’re going to sprints, we’re gonna compete in that. That is what I wanna change here, but it will be a consistent effort to do it every single day in everything that we do.”
Despite her desire to cultivate a competitive environment, Butts said she aims to build a culture centered on mutual respect, discipline and collaboration.
“It will always be ‘we’ over ‘me,’” Butts said. “No one is bigger than this program.”
Recruiting student-athletes with this winning mentality will be key to Georgetown’s future success. Butts said she will turn to the network that she has built through her extensive experience coaching across the country in which she has succeeded in recruiting locally and internationally.
“I’ve coached players from Italy through Spain, Finland, Sweden — all of them,” Butts said. “When you coach for 16, 17 years, you’ve built a lot of connections with a lot of people and now, it is time to lean on those relationships that I’ve built.”
To lay the foundation for her recruiting plan, Butts will have to compete with the No. 6 University of Maryland Terrapins, a national powerhouse, to land the best of the local talent in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area.
“We want to take care of home first,” Butts said. “The DMV area is loaded with girls’ basketball talent. We want Georgetown to be home for them first — then we’ll go out and recruit nationally.”
Butts confirmed with The Hoya that she will be having an in-depth conversation with Big East Freshman of the Year and starting Georgetown guard Kennedy Fauntleroy about staying with the team; the Maryland native entered the transfer portal March 14, after the university announced its departure with Howard.
“We want her to be part of the program,” Butts said.
Regarding specific goals for next season, Butts said she is cautious about overpromising but will focus on tangible offensive improvement and moving up conference standings. The Hoyas made just 27.6% of their 3-point attempts and 38.5% of their field goal attempts on their way to an eighth place finish out of 11 teams in the Big East last season.
“The one thing that I do wanna see from our team is improvement,” Butts said. “That’s improvement with our 3-point field goal percentage, improvement with our field goal percentage, our turnovers, our offensive rebounding.”
Butts emphasized that a consistent effort on the court, in the student section and in the community is necessary to grow the program. Program support and fan interest, particularly student engagement, are essential for recruiting top talent, Butts said.
“I need our students to be our advantage,” Butts said. “I need — when our young ladies are playing on TV, or a fan steps foot on our campus and our gym for the first time — that they compliment our student section: that we’re the most obnoxious, the loudest, the most supportive group of students they’ve ever seen.”
“We need to do this together,” Butts added.