Basketball Australia makes Opals job full-time

23:01, Feb 13 2013
Carrie Graf
FULLTIME: Outgoing Opals coach Carrie Graf was only employed on a part-time basis.

Accused of sexism last year, Basketball Australia (BA) is making the national women's team coach a full-time job to boost the world No 2 ranked Opals' quest for an elusive first Olympic gold medal.

However, longtime Opals mentor Carrie Graf won't benefit from the change after announcing on Thursday she will not re-apply for the post, instead accepting a coach-in-residence role at the University of Canberra while also coaching Canberra's WNBL team.

BA on Thursday started the search for new national men's and women's coaches, with Graf and men's team counterpart Brett Brown both now out of the picture after completing their four-year contracts at the London Olympics.

Brown announced his departure last October as he concentrates on his role as assistant coach with NBA team San Antonio Spurs.

BA said the men's team (Boomers) role would continue to be offered as a part-time position but with potential for the right candidate to serve in a full-time capacity at the new BA Centre of Excellence in Canberra.

But BA's chief executive Kristina Keneally was eager to tout the upgrading of the Opals coach role.

BA copped a caning in the lead up to last year's Olympics when it was revealed the women's side flew to London in economy class, while the men had business-class tickets.

"This is a ground-breaking, innovative move - it's the first time in over a decade that Basketball Australia has dedicated a full-time Olympic head coach to one of our national teams," former NSW Premier Keneally said in a statement.

"The Opals are ranked second in the world by FIBA. They're Australia's most consistent medalling women's team across all sports - having medalled at the last five Olympic Games.

"This is about giving them the resources they need to aim for their first gold medal.

"We also expect that the Boomers will go into the 2016 Rio Olympics with the strongest squad to date and their strongest chances yet of winning a medal."

BA's high performance programs, currently run by the Australian Institute of Sport, will become the responsibility of the new Centre of Excellence over the next 12 months.

Keneally said both coaches would have the chance to shape the new Centre of Excellence, as well as define the national team programs ahead of the Rio Games.

BA has appointed two selection panels, with the organisation's general manager of high performance and national teams Steven Icke to chair both.

Jan Stirling, Rachael Sporn, Luc Longley, Andrew Gaze, and Ian Rutledge will select the Opals coach, while Luc Longley, Andrew Gaze, Jan Stirling, Paul Roos and Ian Rutledge were charged with finding the new Boomers boss.

Both coaches will serve a fixed term until the end of the Rio Olympics, with annual reviews.

A full-time Opals coach was one of the key recommendations from BA's review of the London Olympics.