Whalen not serving as special assistant, paid $215K termination fee

Lindsay Whalen is not working for the University of Minnesota anymore and was paid a termination fee, according to a release agreement.

The university announced on March 2 that Whalen stepped down from her position as head coach of the women’s basketball team and was transitioning to a newly created role of special assistant to the athletics director. She was expected to stay in that new role through the rest of her contract, which was set to run through April 12, 2025.

However, the release agreement obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS shows that by April 6, Whalen “determined that the new position . . . was not in (her) best interest, and requested that the University treat the circumstances as a termination without cause under terms of the Employment Agreement.”

As part of her contract, the university then fired her and paid her a $215,000 “termination fee,” as her contract called for.

Whalen coached the Gophers from 2018-2023 and compiled an overall record of 71-76, including 32-58 in conference play across five seasons.

Her legendary status helped her ink the program’s highest-ranked recruiting class in history during the fall of 2021 but frequent transfers from the roster also subtracted key contributors.

Gophers Athletics Director Mark Coyle said on March 2 that he and Whalen had “multiple discussions” and both felt it was the right time for her to step down from the program.

Coyle announced the hiring of former South Dakota and West Virginia coach Dawn Plitzuweit to replace Whalen as head coach three weeks later.

Whalen played for Minnesota from 2000-04, was the program’s first three-time All-American in school history and led the Gophers to their only Final Four in program history. The Hutchinson native then went on to star in the WNBA, including for the Minnesota Lynx, whom she helped lead to four WNBA championships. She also is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year.