The longest tenured women's basketball coach in Miami history, Maria Fantanarosa is now in her 15th season as the head coach of the RedHawks. She is coming off leading Miami to a 21-10 campaign in 2011-2012 that saw it qualify for the WNIT for the second time in school history. During the 2012-13 season, she will lead a team of eight returning letterwinners to go along with a talented four-member recruiting class, as the RedHawks look to build on that success to take them to even further in the Mid-American Conference and the postseason.
Since returning to her alma mater as head coach prior to the 1998-99 season, Fantanarosa has guided a resurgent program to nine winning seasons in the past 14 years, including two Mid-American Conference East Division crowns, the 2003-04 MAC regular-season championship and the 2008 MAC Tournament championship.
Last season, Coach Fantanarosa secured her 200th career win at Miami with a 77-72 victory over Indiana on Nov. 22, 2011 at Millett Hall. She has been the 'Hawks all-time winningest coach for the past six years. She earned that mark with her 132nd victory, an 87-79 victory over IUPUI on Dec. 30, 2006. She passed Pam Wettig, who previously held the mark with a career record of 131-103. Fantanarosa's all-time record at Miami stands at 218-199.
Critical to the program's success has been an impressive recruiting effort that has brought seven of the program's top 10 career scoring leaders, as well as five of the top 10 career rebounding leaders to campus during her tenure. Under her tutelage, Miami has produced 50 MAC Players of the Week, 22 all-MAC selections, six MAC All-Freshman honorees, one MAC Player of the Year in Heather Cusick (2002), one MAC Tournament MVP in Amanda Jackson (2008) and the program's first MAC Freshman of the Year in Courtney Osborn (2010).
Fantanarosa's RedHawks have been consistently recognized for their outstanding achievements and contributions on and off the court. Director of Athletics Brad Bates has been one of her biggest supporters, noting that the mentor of the Red and White continues to attract and produce high-quality student-athletes.
"Maria has led our program to great success the past 10 years, as well as our first NCAA Tournament appearance," said Bates. "Her students grow, develop and graduate as leaders in our communities. Her staff contributes to our culture in meaningful and engaging ways. As an alumna, Maria represents Miami with a unique passion and love that inspires us all. We look forward to her continued leadership and are very excited about her commitment to this great university."
Fantanarosa insists her players take advantage of all Miami has to offer academically. Since she has been in charge, seven players have been named Academic All-MAC and two have earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors. In 2004, senior Colleen Day became the first RedHawk to win a major national academic honor when she was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Second-Team.
A fiery competitor as both a player and a coach for the Red and White, Fantanarosa has been instrumental in directing the dramatic turnaround of a program that was coming off its first losing season in 10 years when she was hired in the summer of 1998.
Since taking the reins in 1998, Miami has been one of the most consistent powers in the Mid-American Conference, winning an impressive 118 conference games and finishing among the top three in the MAC East Division in all but five seasons. That includes an 11-5 record and a fourth place finish (second in the East Division) in the conference in 2012.
She was hired too late to recruit a freshman class for her inaugural season at Miami. So Fantanarosa relied heavily on walk-ons for her first Miami team. Despite that, she guided them a surprising 11-15 record and laid the groundwork for the blue-collar style of play that has become the signature of RedHawk basketball.
With strong recruiting classes in place, Fantanarosa guided the 2000-01 RedHawks to an 18-11 record, including a 10-6 mark in the conference. Miami put an exclamation mark on the season with a thrilling upset of Ball State in the MAC Quarterfinals and made its return to the MAC Semifinals.
The program continued to grow over the next two seasons, as Miami posted 36 wins and claimed the program's first MAC East Division Title in 2002-03. Heather Cusick was named MAC Player of the Year in 2001-02 and finished her career as Miami's all-time leading scorer with 1,728 points, a record that stood until the 2007-08 season.
The pinnacle arrived in 2003-04, when Miami stormed through the league by reeling off 12-straight wins in the heart of the MAC season and capturing the overall MAC Championship. Fantanarosa was named MAC Coach of the Year, and the program made its first appearance in the Postseason WNIT, where they advanced to the second round of the tournament.
With an 11-9 record after 20 games in the 2007-08 season, the RedHawks caught fire and won nine of their final 10 regular-season contests to earn the third seed in the MAC Tournament. The momentum continued as Miami battled for close victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals over Western Michigan and Toledo. In the championship game, MAC Tournament MVP Amanda Jackson scored 19 points to lead the RedHawks to a 67-56 victory over Ohio and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Earning a No. 13 seed, Miami would battle tough against fourth seeded Louisville in the first round, eventually falling, 81-67.
Fantanarosa , became the seventh head coach at Miami after serving as head coach at Western Carolina in 1997-98.
Prior to Western Carolina, Fantanarosa was the top assistant at South Carolina for three seasons. While with the Gamecocks, she was the position coach for Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson, who went on to play 11 seasons in the WNBA and won a gold medal with Team USA in the Olympics at Athens in 2004.
Before her work with South Carolina, she was the number one assistant at Xavier, where the Musketeers won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference regular season title in 1991-92 and the conference tournament title one year later.
No stranger to awards and honors, Fantanarosa's playing career is marked with numerous accomplishments. With the Red and White she was twice named an All-MAC performer. Known for her competitiveness, Fantanarosa remains among Miami's top 10 career assist leaders (323) and ranks 17th on the all-time scoring list with 1,086 points.
During a prolific prep career at Mt. Carmel Area High School, Fantanarosa set Pennsylvania state records for most points in a career - male or female - (3,823) and most points in a single season (1,318). That career mark still ranks 13th nationally among all girls. The single-season mark was the second-best total nationally among girls at the time, and still ranks eighth today. She was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in the fall of 2005.
A native of Kulpmont, Pa., Fantanarosa earned her bachelor's degree in speech communication with a minor in coaching science from Miami in 1990. She received her master's degree in sports administration from Xavier in 1993. Fantanarosa and her husband Tim Morrow have two daughters, Lauren (10) and Allison (seven).