Dianne Nolan enters her third season at Yale, and her first as
Associate Head Coach, after 28 years as the head coach at Fairfield
University. She accumulated 456 wins at Fairfield and led the Stags
to four NCAA Tournament appearances. Nolan’s teams won three
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships, and she
earned MAAC Coach of the Year honors five times. With
Fairfield’s 69-53 victory at Rider on Jan., 29, 2006, Nolan
became the 28th coach in Division I history with 500 career wins.
Her career record in 33 seasons at St. Francis (N.Y.) and Fairfield
“Having someone as respected and well-liked in the coaching arena as Dianne Nolan is almost too good to be true,” Yale’s Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach Chris Gobrecht said. “I’m thankful to be at Yale because this awesome institution attracts this kind of coaching talent, and our team members and the Yale community will benefit greatly.”
Nolan took over the Fairfield program in 1979, and oversaw its transition to the Division I level in 1981. Her 28-year tenure is the ninth longest head coaching tenure at one school in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history. Under her watch, the Stags captured four NCAA Tournament berths and a spot in the 2000 WNIT. Fairfield won three MAAC regular season crowns and three MAAC Tournament championships and, in 2001, clinched the program’s first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Nolan’s first two Division I Fairfield teams each won 18 games before her 1983-84 team posted a 22-6 record. That was the first of six 20-win seasons, including three 25-win campaigns. Her 1999-2000 and 2000-01 teams each won 25 games, earned back-to-back at-large postseason appearances and posted a combined 50-14 record during that span. The 1999-2000 team played Wisconsin in the WNIT, and her 2000-01 squad received just the second at-large NCAA Tournament invitation in MAAC history.
That 2001 squad was Nolan’s fourth NCAA Tournament team.
Her first conference crown came in 1988, when the Stags knocked off
LaSalle 55-50 in the MAAC Championship Game before falling to St.
John’s in the NCAA Tournament. The Stags returned to the NCAA
Tournament as MAAC champions in 1991 and again in 1998.
Prior to her stint at Fairfield, Nolan was the head coach at St. Francis (N.Y.) from 1974-79. Her first team recorded just six wins, but the Terriers posted a winning record in each of her final four seasons. She posted 61 victories at St. Francis and led the Terriers to three postseason appearances.
She has been an active member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) since the organization’s formation in 1981. She served two three-year terms as WBCA secretary and two as the treasurer. In September 2006, Nolan was named to the selection committee for the State Farm Wade Trophy, given annually to the Division I women’s basketball player of the year. She was inducted into the Camden County (N.J.) Sports Hall of Fame in the fall of 2008.
Perhaps her most impressive achievement at Fairfield is the fact that every senior she coached with the Stags graduated with a degree on time. Many of her former players have gone on to successful coaching careers, including Bucknell head coach Kathy Fedorjaka and Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabri.
Five times, Nolan was recognized by her peers as the MAAC Coach of the Year, taking the honors in 1983, 1984, 1990, 1998 and 2000. She was named the MBWA Coach of the Year in 2001 and earned New England Coach of the Year honors in 1984.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Glassboro State University in 1973. Nolan earned a master’s degree in physical education from the University of West Virginia in 1974 and a second master’s in political and corporate communications from Fairfield University in 1989.
Nolan has been married to Mark Breslin for 27 years. They have three sons: Zach, a graduate of Fordham; and twins John, a lacrosse player at Fairfield, and Andrew, who attends Coastal Carolina University.