February 22, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) — After 35 years on the Hilltop as a coach and student-athlete, Rhonda Rompola will step away from SMU and from coaching at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, as the long-time coach announced today that she will retire at season’s end. In all, Rompola has played or coached in 35 of the 40 seasons SMU has sponsored women’s basketball as a varsity sport.
“This has been an incredible journey,” said Rompola. “I want to thank my student-athletes, both past and present. I also want to thank my staff. They have been a blessing to me, and we have such a special relationship. Lisa (Dark) has coached every game with me and Deneen (Parker) has been with me for 21 of my 25 years as a head coach. To find that type of loyalty is rare.
“However, I’ve coached the game for 30-plus years and it’s extremely demanding of your time. I am really looking forward to spending more time with my husband and family.
“SMU has a special place in my heart. It has given me the opportunity to coach this game I love for so many years. I want to thank President Turner, the administration and the SMU community for a wonderful experience and career.”
“Any discussion of SMU women’s basketball starts with Rhonda Rompola,” said SMU President Dr. R. Gerald Turner. “We all owe Coach Rompola a great debt of gratitude for her faithful service to the university and to her student-athletes. I know I speak for the entire SMU family when I say, ‘Thank you, Rhonda,’ for a job well done.”
Rompola is in her 25th season as head coach of the Mustangs and has an overall record of 438-314. During her tenure as head coach, she has led the Mustangs to the postseason 13 times, including seven NCAA Tournament berths (1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2008), and captured five conference championships (1999, 2000, 2008, 2009 and 2013).
She has guided her teams to 20 wins in a season nine times, including a program-record 24 wins in 2007-08. Rompola has coached 34 all-conference selections, one All-America award winner, three conference Players of the Year, two conference Defensive Players of the Year, and earned Coach of the Year accolades four times.
Rompola has been a part of the SMU women’s basketball program since the 1981-82 season when, as a student-athlete, she led the Mustangs to 18-15 record. She scored 683 points during her lone season, which stood as the single-season record for over 30 years. She ranks tied for second in rebounds in a season with 278, and still holds the record for most free throws made in a season with 163. She played just one season on the Hilltop after transferring from Old Dominion, helping the Monarchs to AIAW national championships in 1979 and 1980. She graduated from SMU in 1983, and then spent eight seasons as an assistant coach for the Mustangs before taking over the program in 1991.
Rompola’s consistency extends beyond her own tenure, as the Sayreville, N.J., native has also kept consistency with her staff. Associate Head Coach Lisa Dark has served under Rompola for 25 years, while Assistant Coach Deneen Parker has coached on the Hilltop for 21 years.
“For over three decades, Coach Rompola has been a constant here at SMU,” said SMU’s Director of Athletics Rick Hart. “Rhonda is synonymous with SMU women’s basketball. On behalf of our entire department, I want to thank Coach Rompola and her staff for their long-standing and unwavering commitment to our student-athletes and the SMU community.”
SMU will honor Rompola after the team’s final home game on Feb. 27, when the Mustangs host Houston at 2 p.m.