Carolyn Peck served as the eighth head coach of the University of Florida women’s basketball team, compiling a 72-76 record from the 2002-03 season through the 2006-07 season. The Gators earned a postseason bid in three of her five years, including two trips to the NCAA Championship (2004 & 2006) and a WNIT bid (2005).
One of the biggest accomplishments achieved under Peck came in the classroom, where the Gators accumulated 31 Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll accolades, the best five-year total in program history
Additionally under Peck’s watch, two players - Sarah Lowe and Danielle Santos - became the first-ever Gator recipients of CoSIDA Academic All-District III honors, with Lowe making her way onto the national ballot in 2006 as a first-team All-District honoree. Lowe also earned a prestigious NCAA post-graduate scholarship and was named the 2006 SEC’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
The 2004-05 and 2003-04 slates each rated as the third-most challenging in the country, with the 2004-05 squad one of only two teams in the country that played three of the four 2005 Final Four teams during the regular season.
On the court, the highlight of Peck’s tenure was the 2005-06 season, when the team posted historical victories over No. 2 LSU on February 16 for the highest-ranked opponent UF has ever defeated and against No. 5 Tennessee on February 26 to become just the second unranked team ever to defeat the Lady Vols in Knoxville - the first in Thompson-Boling Arena. That 2005-06 team returned just 40 percent of its scoring from the previous season while losing four primary starters. But behind the grit and leadership of four seniors to nurture five true freshmen, Peck and the Gators clipped the 20-win mark for the first time since 2000-01 and earned a berth into the NCAA Championship.
In her second year at Florida, Peck orchestrated the greatest one-season turnaround in program history. The 2003-04 Gators posted a 19-11 overall record, winning 10 more games than they did in 2002-03, when the team posted a 9-19 record. The 1982-83 team compiled an 11-16 record that was followed by a 19-9 record the next season.
What made the one-season swing even more impressive was the fact that UF’s schedule was ranked as the third-toughest in the country. The Gators played 11 nationally-ranked teams, while finishing the regular season tied for fourth place in the mighty SEC race, earning the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament after being picked during the preseason by the SEC media to finish eighth in the conference standings. The 2003-04 Gators earned a bid into the NCAA Championship, receiving the No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region. The team eliminated New Mexico in front of 16,029 rabid Lobo fans in the first round, before falling to 15th-ranked and fourth-seeded Baylor in the next game.
Peck’s 2003-04 Gator squad, which featured just one scholarship senior, posted six upset victories against nationally-ranked teams, the second most in school history.
The 2002-03 season marked the first time in 13 years the Gators took the court under a new head coach. Carolyn Peck was introduced on April 3, 2002, as the eighth women’s basketball head coach in Florida history.
Peck inherited a squad that featured just one player - junior center Vanessa Hayden - who boasted more than one year of Division I basketball experience. Unfortunately for the Gators and Hayden, she fractured her left fibula during the December 7 game at N.C. State and missed 10 crucial games as a result. Her absence, combined with the addition of five true freshmen - the most since the 1994-95 season - resulted in some tough times on the court.
Everyone, from the players to the coaches, were literally thrown into battle and forced to ‘learn on the job.’ Florida’s schedule consistently ranked among the top 15 toughest in the country throughout the season. After a rough start to open the SEC slate, the Gators settled down, regained their confidence and showed great improvement with each game. Despite the team’s struggles on the court, Peck remained the eternal optimist and the Gators followed her positive leadership.
Prior to taking the helm of the Florida program, the last time Carolyn Peck graced the college basketball hardwood, she walked off the court with a huge smile on her face and a piece of the 1999 NCAA championship net grasped firmly in her hand. She accomplished her goal of winning an NCAA title. Four days later, Peck realized another lifelong goal – coaching professional basketball – as she assumed the reigns of the budding WNBA Orlando Miracle franchise.
On April 3, 2002, Peck stood before a packed room in the Women’s Club on the University of Florida campus and enthusiastically announced her return to the college game. Peck, who actively served as Head Coach and General Manager of the Miracle since April 1, 1999, charmed the media and athletics personnel in attendance that afternoon in Gainesville.
Peck was actually named Head Coach and General Manager of the Miracle on July 6, 1998, the summer before she guided Purdue University to the 1999 NCAA championship with a 62-45 win over Duke on March 28. Four days later, she officially assumed the reigns of the inaugural WNBA franchise and led the Miracle to a 44-52 record in three seasons, including a trip to the 2000 playoffs. During the off-season in Orlando, Peck worked as the color analyst for Sunshine Network on multiple UF women’s televised games. She served in a similar capacity for ESPN’s coverage of the 2002 NCAA Championship.
It was during her second year as head coach of the Boilermakers when Peck orchestrated Purdue’s national title run, as the team compiled a 34-1 record and she was recognized as the Associated Press and the WBCA Division I National Coach of the Year. In her first season as a head coach, Peck helped Purdue to a 23-10 mark and a trip to the 1998 NCAA “Elite Eight,” where the team lost 72-65 to Louisiana Tech. The team won a pair of Big Ten Tournament titles with Peck at the reigns, while the 1999 squad became only the second team in the 17-year history of the Big Ten to skate through the regular-season conference slate undefeated (16-0). Her peers and the league’s media recognized Peck’s accomplishments, as both groups named her the Big Ten Coach of the Year following the perfect run in 1999.
Peck was an assistant coach at Purdue for one year under Nell Fortner prior to being promoted the following season after Fortner departed to become the head coach of the USA National Team, which went on to win the gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games. During the 1997 season, Purdue compiled a 17-11 ledger, won the Big Ten title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers posted a 74-22 record in three years with Peck, including a 57-11 mark in her two seasons as head coach.
Also during her two years at the helm of the Purdue program, eight different players combined for 11 Academic All-Big Ten honors and one player - Stephanie White - was the GTE Academic All-American of the Year.
Prior to her stay in West Lafayette, Ind., Peck spent the 1996 season as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky, after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee in 1994 and 1995. The Lady Vols logged a 65-5 record while Peck was under the tutelage of Pat Summitt, and she helped the team capture a pair of SEC titles and reach the national championship game in 1995.
Those three years weren’t the only experience Peck had in the SEC. Peck played her college ball at Vanderbilt from 1985-88. During her four-year career, the 6-foot-4 center averaged 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds. She totaled 1,240 points, 679 rebounds and 180 blocks while helping the Commodores to a 77-42 record and appearances in the 1986 and 1987 NCAA Tournaments. Peck, who played all four years under head coach Phil Lee, was named team captain in her final two years and she earned Second Team All-SEC honors her final season. Peck earned her B.A. in communications in 1988, after which she was a marketing consultant for a television station in Nashville. She spent the next two years in pharmaceutical sales with a Fortune 500 company.
Peck then returned to the hardcourt, playing professionally in Japan from 1991-93 with the Nippondenso Corporation. She was the league’s leading rebounder her final two years and helped her team win the league championship her final campaign.
A native of Jefferson City, Tenn., Peck was a two-time prep All-American at Jefferson County High School and was named Tennessee’s Miss Basketball in 1984. She has one older brother, Steve, and one younger brother, Michael, who was an assistant coach with the Gator women’s team in 1998. Carolyn later hired Michael to be an assistant under her with the Orlando Miracle in 2000 and 2001, and at UF since 2003.
|Carolyn’s College Coaching ‘Peck’-ing Order|
|1994||Tennessee||Assistant Coach||31-2||11-0 (1st)||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1995||Tennessee||Assistant Coach||34-4||11-0 (1st)||NCAA Runner-up|
|1996||Kentucky||Assistant Coach||8-19||2-9 (12th)||—|
|1997||Purdue||Assistant Coach||17-11||12-4 (t-1st)||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1998||Purdue||Head Coach||23-10||10-6 (t-3rd)||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1999||Purdue||Head Coach||34-1||16-0 (1st)||NCAA Champions|
|2003||Florida||Head Coach||9-19||1-13 (t-11th)||—|
|2004||Florida||Head Coach||19-11||8-6 (t-4th)||NCAA 2nd Round|
|2005||Florida||Head Coach||14-15||5-9 (8th)||WNIT 1st Round|
|2006||Florida||Head Coach||21-8||8-6 (t-5th)||NCAA 1st Round|
|2007||Florida||Head Coach||9-22||2-12 (11th)||—|
|Overall Record at Florida: 72-76 / five years|
|Overall Record as College Head Coach: 129-87 / seven years|
|Overall Record as a Collegiate Assistant & Head Coach: 219-122 / 11 years|
Carolyn Peck at a Glance
Full Name: Carolyn Arlene Peck
Hometown: Jefferson City, Tenn.
Date of Birth: January 22, 1966
Height: 6-foot-4 (without heels!)
Education: Vanderbilt (B.A. in communications, 1988); Jefferson County High School (1985)
Playing Background: Vanderbilt (1985-88); Japanese Professional League (1991-93)
Collegiate Coaching Highlights:
- Named 1999 Associated Press National Coach of the Year
- Named 1999 WBCA National Coach of the Year
- Voted 1999 Big Ten Coach of the Year (coaches & media)
- Coached Purdue to 1999 National Championship
- Coached PU to the 1998 & 1999 Big Ten Tournament Championships
- Guided PU to the 1999 Big Ten Regular Season title
- Assistant Coach for the 1997 U.S. Jones Cup Team (silver medalist)
- Assistant Coach for the 2004 U.S. Junior World Championships Qualifying Team (gold medalist)
Did you Know Carolyn Peck …
- stepped down at the end of the 2006-07 season
- was introduced on April 3, 2002 as the eighth head coach in UF women’s basketball history
- was the youngest (and tallest) head coach in the SEC
- had 12 years of experience in the SEC (five as a head coach at UF; four as a player at Vanderbilt; two as an assistant coach at Tennessee; one as an assistant coach at Kentucky)
- was one of only two former Tennessee assistant coaches (the other was former UF head coach and current Kentucky head coach Mickie DeMoss) who have collected a regular-season victory against the Lady Vols. On Feb. 26, 2006, Peck’s unranked Gators marched into to Knoxville and upset the fifth-ranked Lady Vols 95-93 in overtime, becoming the second unranked team ever to defeat Tennessee at home. During Purdue’s national championship season with Peck at the helm, the Boilermakers ended UT’s 46-game winning streak with a 78-68 decision on Nov. 15, 1998.
- was 2-0 all-time as a head coach against Florida
- while simultaneously serving as Purdue’s head coach and the Orlando Miracle’s general manager, Peck made her first coaching appearance in the Sunshine State on Dec. 21, 1998, when the Boilermakers defeated the Florida Gators in Gainesville, 84-76
- was an assistant coach for Kentucky the first time she ever graced the sidelines of the TD Waterhouse Centre, where her Orlando Miracle team called home. The Wildcats’ opponent in the game — Florida, which won the 69-46 decision on Dec. 16, 1995
- was the head coach and general manager of the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle from 1999-2001 (three seasons)
- was specifically requested by legendary comedian Bill Cosby that she introduce him as the headline performer at 2002 Gator Growl, the largest student-run pep rally in the country, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Nov. 15, 2002 with a sellout crowd of 58,403 people in attendance as part of UF Homecoming activities.