Georgetown women's basketball coach Tasha Butts, 41, died on Monday following a two-year battle with breast cancer, the school announced.
Butts was diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer in 2021. The upcoming 2023-24 season was going to be her first as a head coach with the Hoyas. Butts was hired in April but had to temporarily step away in September because of her health.
She had been the inspiration behind the, where programs from all over the nation sent her messages of encouragement and shared how she had inspired them to be tough.
"I am heartbroken for Tasha's family, friends, players, teammates and colleagues," Lee Reed, Francis X. Rienzo director of intercollegiate athletics, said in the school's official statement. "When I met Tasha, I knew she was a winner on the court, and an incredible person whose drive, passion and determination was second to none. She exhibited these qualities both as a leader and in her fight against breast cancer. This is a difficult time for the entire Georgetown community, and we will come together to honor her memory."
Butts played at Tennessee for Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt from 2000-2004. Her teams in those four years had a 124-17 record and reached the Sweet 16 each season. Her last two years as a Lady Vol included two national championship appearances.
She was briefly in the WNBA with the Minnesota Lynx after being selected 20th overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft, but most of her professional career in basketball was in a coaching staff. She got her first assistant job at Duquesne in 2007. She then spent some time with UCLA, LSU and Georgia Tech -- where she had been promoted to associate head coach in 2021.
Butts, a native of Milledgeville, Ga., didn't get to coach an official game in Georgetown, but she still made an impact in the program.
"Tasha's passing is a devastating loss. She was extraordinary -- Tasha was a person of character, determination, vision, and kindness," University president John J. DeGioia said. "She will be deeply missed by our community and by so many people around the country who have been inspired by her life. We offer her family our most sincere condolences."
Programs around the nation have been sharing their condolences, including her former teams.
"We'll carry her toughness and fight throughout this season and beyond. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones," the Tennessee Lady Vols wrote.