SEATTLE — Seattle Storm Coach Dan Hughes abruptly announced his retirement on Sunday, six games into the season, saying the rigors of being a head coach in the W.N.B.A. has taken a toll.
Hughes, 66, said he would continue to serve as an assistant coach for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics, but he handed over the duties of leading the Storm (5-1) to assistant coach Noelle Quinn.
“After over 40 years of coaching basketball, I want to finish my career with the focus and determination with which I started,” Hughes said in a statement. “The Seattle Storm is in amazing shape, after two championships and a terrific playoff run in 2019, I would like to announce my retirement from the W.N.B.A. I believe now is the right time because the team is performing well, but the rigors of being a head coach in the WNBA have taken their toll on me. I look forward to coaching with U.S.A. Basketball at the 2021 Olympics, then leveraging my experience to give back to the game in other ways.”
Hughes has coached in the W.N.B.A. for 20 years with stops with the defunct Charlotte and Cleveland franchises, San Antonio and Seattle. He has coached the second-most games in league history (598) and is tied for third in victories with 286.
Hughes arrived in Seattle in 2018 and helped lead the Storm to their third W.N.B.A. title in his first season. He missed part of the 2019 season after having surgery and being treated for a cancerous tumor in his digestive tract, and he was not cleared to be with the Storm in the W.N.B.A. bubble in Bradenton, Fla., during the truncated 2020 season that ended with Seattle’s fourth title.
Hughes twice won the W.N.B.A. coach of the year award, in 2001 with Cleveland and in 2007 with San Antonio.
“It is rare when a leader has the foresight to make changes at the pinnacle of their career,” Lisa Brummel, a co-owner of the Storm, said. “Under Dan’s leadership, the Storm have won two championships and he has built a great coaching staff here in Seattle. His dedication to his craft is second to none and his legacy is perfectly exemplified by his unselfish nature and ability to see all that lies ahead.”
Quinn, 36, joined Seattle’s coaching staff in 2019 after winning the first title of her playing career with the Storm in 2018. She handled head coaching duties earlier this week in a 90-87 win over Connecticut while Hughes was attending his son’s graduation.
“I am excited to hand the reins to Noelle,” Hughes said. “She is well positioned to do this job and I am proud to have mentored her during my time here. I look forward to her and the team’s ongoing success.”
Assistant coaches Gary Kloppenburg, Ryan Webb and Perry Huang will remain on the team’s staff and work with Quinn. Kloppenburg was the head coach last season in the bubble.