Brought aboard 10 years ago to enhance LSU's reputation as a women's basketball powerhouse, Nikki Fargas was a rising star, an energetic young coach with a strong record and a championship pedigree.
Fargas' tenure at LSU was instead marked by mediocrity, as the Tigers all but disappeared from the national picture, beset by dozens of disappointing losses, shortcomings in recruiting and early player departures.
Fargas stepped down from her position as the head coach of LSU women's basketball this week, according to reports, with plans to pursue a career outside of coaching.
Attempts to reach Fargas were unsuccessful Thursday. LSU spokesperson Michael Bonnette declined to comment.
Fargas had one year left on a contract that paid her $700,000 per season.
LSU, which made five straight Final Fours from 2004-08, never finished better than fourth in the Southeastern Conference under Fargas, a former star player at Tennessee who had built her own winning program at UCLA.
Fargas came to Baton Rouge after having led the Bruins out of mediocrity. UCLA finished second in the Pac-10 standings and reached the second round of the NCAAs in each of Fargas’ final two seasons there.
She inherited the LSU program from Van Chancellor, who led the Tigers to the 2008 Final Four but missed the NCAA tournament in 2010-11, his last season before he resigned.
Under Fargas, the Tigers reached the Sweet 16 just twice, and they missed the NCAA tournament four times — including this year, when LSU quietly fell in the quarterfinals of the SEC tourney in Greenville, South Carolina, on March 5.
Fargas was 176-128 overall and 81-77 in SEC play in her 10 seasons.
This season may have been the most disappointing of them all. Fargas herself had high hopes for what appeared to be her best team yet.
"It has the potential," Fargas said before the season began. "They have all the tools. It's just a matter of how quickly we can jell."
The reformation of the LSU women’s basketball roster continued Friday with some familiar faces deciding to stick around.
Led by seniors Khayla Pointer and Faustine Aifuwa, and with a promising young star in Tiara Young, the Tigers were poised to finish among the top four in the SEC, Fargas said.
"Anytime you're top four or five in our league, you should be nationally ranked, which should give us a better NCAA tournament seeding," she said before the season.
That didn't happen. In a pandemic-shortened year, LSU lost four of its first five games, and although the Tigers had some high moments — they upset then-No. 7 Texas A&M and threw a scare into No. 1 South Carolina, losing 66-59 in Columbia — LSU closed the regular season on a five-game losing streak.
LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Fargas confirmed Wednesday four more of her players have entered the NCAA transfer portal.
The Tigers were 9-13 overall and 6-8 in SEC play.
Young, forward Awa Trasi, guard Karli Seay and two seldom-used reserves, Treasure Thompson and Sharna Ayres, entered the transfer portal.
LSU made up for the losses by bringing in graduate transfers Ariyah Copeland of Alabama and Autumn Newby of Vanderbilt, and in announcing the return of seniors Khayla Pointer, Faustine Aifuwa and Jailin Cherry for one more season.