Lindsay Whalen said she would not be standing behind a podium at Williams Arena Friday if it wasn't for her collegiate success at the University of Minnesota.
Now, she wants that same experience for Gophers players on the team next season.
Whalen, a Gophers alumna who went to a Final Four during her senior year in 2004, was introduced in front of fans and media as the new head coach of Minnesota women's basketball. Whalen set a high bar for her team, saying she wants them to go to a Final Four and play in front of 14,000 fans.
"Winning, that's what it's all about," Whalen said. "It's about going out, having fun and doing it together, so that will be my main objective, my main goal."
Whalen will continue to play for the Minnesota Lynx this season. She has, however, retired from international competition, meaning she will not compete in the International Basketball Federation World Cup come September.
Whalen's contract, which is pending Board of Regents approval, has a term of five years. Her first-year base salary will be $400,000, with salary increases depending on the approval of athletics director Mark Coyle. Whalen is currently set to make $547,391 in the fifth year of her contract.
When she is still under contract with the Lynx, Whalen will receive a full time equivalent .625 in pay. Once she is full time, she will receive standard benefits from the University.
Minnesota players found out about the hiring by watching a highlight video. The clip showed Whalen on the video and she walked in shortly after. For the Minnesota players, it felt like a long time from former head coach Marlene Stollings leaving on Monday to the hiring of Whalen.
"She knows how to win, she knows how to get us there," Gophers women's basketball player Gadiva Hubbard said. "I just think we’re in really good hands."
Whalen has played in the WNBA since she was drafted by the Connecticut Sun in 2004. She came to the Lynx after five seasons. Whalen and the Lynx have won four WNBA titles since 2011.
Whalen feels prepared, she said, because of the coach who have helped her along the way, such as Pam Borton, Cheryl Reeve and Mike Thibault.
"They've taught me so much about what it is to lead and to lead a group of women," Whalen said.
Minnesota lost Marlene Stollings to Texas Tech last week after she was with Minnesota for four seasons, the team announced April 9.
Whalen played for the Gophers from 2000 to 2004. She is second among all Minnesota players in scoring. She was also a two-time Naismith Award Finalist in 2003 and 2004.
“Who she is, how she represents not only the institution but the Lynx, she is the Mount Rushmore," Coyle said. "She’ll be able to get into any living room and recruiting is the backbone of any program."