Tom Jessee is in his 17th season as head coach for the University of Tampa women's basketball program. Jessee has guided his team to NCAA tournament appearances in eight of the previous 12 seasons, becoming the first coach in UT history to guide his squad to consecutive NCAA tournaments and recently the NCAA South Region semifinal.
Jessee has 25 years under his belt as a collegiate head coach, with nine of those seasons spent at his alma mater Bluefield State (W.V.) University, where he compiled a 170-89 mark. He earned his 400th career victory on the road when the Spartans defeated Barry by a 69-53 margin in 2013. In all, Jessee is now 490-244 (.670) in the college ranks.
He has also moved near the top of the NCAA all-time record book as his .673 winning percentage ranks No. 23 among active coaches and No. 33 all-time nationally. His 436 wins are good for No. 16on the active coaches list.
At UT, Jessee has led the Spartans to nine of the program's 11 NCAA tournaments and three Sunshine State Conference tournament championships. His 2003, 2006-11 and 2014 squads all received bids to the NCAA tourney, and all but one of UT’s SSC tournament crowns have been during the Jessee era, coming in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
His 320-155 record at Tampa gives him the program's top overall winning percentage at .674 as he is also the program's all-time winningest coach. He was also the fastest coach in UT women's basketball history to 100 victories and led his 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 teams to six straight 20-plus win seasons for the first time in program history.
Among the players Jessee has coached include Sheena Walton, who became the first player in UT history to garner second team All-American honors (Daktronics). Walton also joined Crystal Ashley as the only Spartans to be three-time first-team all-SSC selections. He also coached first-team all-SSC selections Jessie McDowell (2003), Yushanda Morse (2004) and Gianna Messina (2009). Under his guidance, Hailee Sullivan was the first player in program history to be named to the NCAA South Regional all-tournament team in 2009.
Jessee enjoyed instant success his first season, inheriting a Spartan team that finished 16-12 the previous year and guided it to a 23-8 record, the SSC regular season championship, and a NCAA II Tournament bid. Jessee was named was named Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts as the Spartans advanced to the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II South Regional, winning the program’s first NCAA tournament game with a 62-55 victory over Florida Southern.
His success reached new heights for the program during the 2008-09 season when his team set a new program mark for wins in a season with 26. The squad captured a share of the regular season conference title and garnered the highest national ranking in team history – 19th. Jessee also led the team to a school-record 13 consecutive wins, three of which came as Tampa won the SSC tournament title. The team also secured the program’s second NCAA tournament victory.
In 2009-10, he was at the helm for a record-setting 26 victory campaign where the team was ranked in the WBCA national top-25 for the entire season. The Spartans also achieved the highest ranking in program history, rising to the No. 12 spot. His team ultimately advanced to the NCAA South regional semifinals, where it suffered a 69-68 setback to No. 4 Arkansas Tech on its home court.
The 2013-14 season was also one for the record books at UT as his squad won the SSC regular-season championship while winning a record 14 league games. His squad had five victories over nationally-ranked opponents, including two in the top-10. He guided his squad to the NCAA South Region championship for the first time in program history. He was also honored as the SSC Coach of the Year for his success.
The 2015-16 season saw the Spartans win the Sunshine State Conference tournament as they entered the tournament as the five seed. They defeated Barry, Nova Southeastern, and Florida Tech to claim the championship. UT also advanced to the NCAA South Regional Tournament as they upset the top-seed Union University in the opening round.
While at Bluefield State, his teams won four conference championships, two district titles, and advanced to the NAIA Sweet 16 in 1985-86 when he served as an assistant. He was voted district Coach of the Year in 1989, and his team placed either first or second in the WVIAC eight times in 12 seasons (nine as head coach, three as an assistant).
During his career, Jessee has tutored and developed two NAIA All-Americans, three conference and district players of the year, 27 all-conference selections at Bluefield State, and the NCAA II national three-point shooting leader.
On January 25, 2007, Jessee was chosen to the "25 at 25" squad by the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as one of the league's top five coaches of all time. The group of 20 players and five coaches was selected by a panel of coaches, administrators, players and media.
Jessee was also inducted to the Bluefield State College Athletics Hall of Fame on July 25, 2014. This honor came as a result of his success at both his alma mater and UT.
Just prior to accepting the Tampa position, he coached girl’s basketball at New Port Richey Gulf High School and was named Tampa Tribune Pasco County Coach of the Year in 1998. In five years at the high school level, he compiled a 75-67 record. He was also Pasco County Coach of the Year in golf in 2001-02.
Jessee and his wife Nikki reside in Dover, Fla., with their daughter Rudi.
Tom Jessee's Collegiate Coaching Career
|1988-89||Bluefield State||17-13||WVIAC Tournament Finalist|
|1989-90||Bluefield State||23-8||Conference Champions|
|1991-92||Bluefield State||22-8||WVIAC Tournament Finalist|
|1992-93||Bluefield State||25-4||Conference Champions|
|2002-03||Tampa||23-8||NCAA South Regional|
|2005-06||Tampa||24-7||SSC Tournament Champions, NCAA South Regional|
|2006-07||Tampa||23-8||SSC Tournament Champions, NCAA South Regional|
|2007-08||Tampa||24-7||NCAA South Regional|
|2008-09||Tampa||26-6||SSC Champions, SSC Tournament Champions, NCAA South Regional|
|2009-10||Tampa||26-5||SSC Regular Season Champions, NCAA South Regional|
|2010-11||Tampa||21-8||NCAA South Regional|
|2013-14||Tampa||24-7||SSC Regular Season Champions, NCAA South Regional Finalist|
|2015-16||Tampa||20-13||SSC Tournament Champions, NCAA South Regional|
|Totals||25 seasons||490-244 (.668)||11 NCAA tournament appearances|