Georgetown University women’s basketball head coach Tasha Butts died on Monday after a two-year battle with breast cancer, the school’s athletic department announced.
She was 41 years old.
Butts’ diagnosis inspired the Tasha Tough campaign, which raised awareness and funds to provide breast cancer care to women who could not afford it.
“I am heartbroken for Tasha’s family, friends, players, teammates, and colleagues,” said Georgetown athletic director Lee Reed. “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 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 came to Georgetown from Georgia Tech this past April after a long coaching and professional WNBA career. She joined the Georgia Tech women’s basketball staff as an assistant coach in April 2019 and was promoted to associate head coach two years later. While at Georgia Tech in 2021, Butts announced she had been diagnosed with advanced-stage metastatic breast cancer.
“Tasha’s passing is a devastating loss. She was extraordinary,” Georgetown president John J. DeGioia said. “Tasha was a person of character, determination, vision, and kindness. She will be deeply missed by our community and by so many people around the country who have been inspired by her life.”
In the wake of Butts’ decision to step down from coaching, Georgetown named assistant Darnell Haney as interim head coach. Haney said he had been in constant contact with her during her illness.
“We kept her up to date with what’s going on with the program. Shoot her a text on how practice went, how things are going in the conference,” he said. “Do stuff to make her smile and keep her mind off what was she was going through. We’d send her film from practice.”
According to the Associated Press, Teams across the country would post videos on social media every Tuesday during October to try and lift Butts’ spirits and remind her she wasn’t alone in the fight against cancer.
Butts was an assistant coach at LSU, Duquesne, and UCLA before joining Georgia Tech. She played for Tennessee from 2000 to 2004 under Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt. She had a brief career in the WNBA, playing for Minnesota, Charlotte, and Houston.
She is survived by her parents, Spencer Sr. and Evelyn, her brother, Spencer Jr., and her nephew, Marquis.