Salem State coach to retire

More news about: Salem State
Tim Shea
Tim Shea has been a fixture at Salem State and has appointed his assistant, Michelle Cunningham, a former Vikings player, his replacement.
Salem State athletics file photo

Salem State women’s basketball coach Tim Shea announced Thursday that he will relinquish his head coaching duties following the final game of the 2010-11 season. Shea, who is 3-11 this season but has a career record of 649-168, will remain athletic director. He coached the Vikings to the 1986 Division III women’s basketball national championship.

Current assistant coach Michelle (Gosselin) Cunningham “will assume all head coaching responsibilites at the conclusion of this year,” according to an athletic department release.

“Clearly the timing is right for me to step back from my coaching responsibilities,” Shea said. “The growing demands within my position as director of athletics have had an impact on my ability to recruit extensively and consistently. Secondly, we are fortunate to have Michelle Cunningham currently in place as an assistant who I am confident will ease successfully into the role of head coach by the conclusion of this season. ... While my coaching duties are disappearing, I will still be available to the program for support and advice over the next few years.

“I have had a wonderful time coaching so many great players on numerous championship teams. Winning a national championship, appearing in four NCAA Division III Final Fours, and achieving a total of 24 NCAA Tournament bids is something all of us associated with Salem State University can be very proud of. These milestones are especially satisfying when you realize that our teams were made up of predominantly Massachusetts athletes with several from Salem proper and surrounding North Shore communities.”

“For all of us at Salem State University, I want to thank Coach Shea for his leadership for our highly successful women's basketball program,” said Salem State president Patricia Maguire Meservey. “With the wonderful accomplishments of an NCAA championship and numerous MASCAC championships, I am most appreciative of his commitment to emphasize the student in student-athlete and his mentoring of hundreds of talented women over the past three decades as our head coach.”

Shea, 60, has spent the past 30 seasons as the architect of one of the most successful women’s basketball programs in the country. During Shea’s reign at Salem State his teams have dominated the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, winning 22 regular season and 16 postseason titles. Shea, who entered the 2010-11 season as the third all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division III women’s basketball history, achieved his greatest accomplishment during the 1985-86 season when he directed the Lady Vikings to the university’s first, and to date only, national team championship. The 1985-86 Lady Vikings posted a 29-1 final record and were ranked No. 1 the entire season. Shea was cited by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association with regional and national coach-of-the-year honors that season. No other NCAA D-III basketball team from New England has won a national championship.

In addition to his impressive won-lost record, the Lady Vikings have earned a record 24 NCAA Division III post-season tournament invitations, including 14 in a row from 1993-2006. Shea has also claimed 23, 20-win seasons, third-best all-time.