October 20, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Lindsay Gottlieb wants California to be in the conversation when it comes to top-tier women's basketball.

She has built a program in Berkeley that is still growing, and Gottlieb is sticking around to see it through for the long haul.

Last week, the sixth-year coach finalized a contract extension through the 2020-21 season, adding three more years to her previous deal.

''You look at women's basketball and there are a handful of programs that are elite,'' Gottlieb said Thursday. ''I want to be one of those places where people associate Cal with women's basketball. ... I really do believe in what we're doing here.''

The school announced the move Thursday, when Gottlieb was in attendance at Pac-12 media day.

From the moment she returned to Cal as head coach in April 2011, Gottlieb spoke of developing a perennial NCAA Tournament contender - and this move provides her program with stability going forward and benefits on the recruiting trail.

The 39-year-old Gottlieb, the 2012-13 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, is 118-51 at Cal and guided the Golden Bears to the program's first Final Four in 2013. She signed a new deal after that taking her through the 2017-18 season.

Gottlieb was previously a top assistant at the school, then spent three years as head coach at Santa Barbara before returning to Berkeley.

It's where she wants to be, in the Bay Area and a place that supports women in basketball and all fields.

''Personally, the place has changed my life. It's been the greatest impact on my professional career,'' she said. ''An extension to say, `We want you here for the next five years,' is really for me very meaningful.''

The Bears are picked sixth in the preseason poll by the conference coaches.

Stability in the coaching ranks is so important if you ask 20th-year Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne, who appreciates seeing coaches and universities finding ways to maintain that such as in Gottlieb's case.

''It is a recipe when a coach can continue at a university,'' Turner Thorne said. ''Usually it means that they've built up a culture and a program that's having continued success. In this day and age where it's big business and a lot of times administrations might pull the plug because there's a couple down years ... it is in my mind a little bit shortsighted at times because that consistency within a program means a lot. Obviously you have to have the right person for the job.''

While Gottlieb was hired by former athletic director Sandy Barbour, now in the same position at Penn State, the coach has developed a strong working relationship with new AD Mike Williams.

''Lindsay has done an exemplary job leading our women's basketball program,'' Williams said. ''From taking the Bears to their first Final Four to becoming a constant presence in the community, Lindsay is completely invested in the success of our student-athletes, both on and off the court. We are thrilled for her to continue as an integral member of the Cal family and look forward to much continued success.''

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