This week in Duke history: Duke women's tennis coach abruptly quits mid-season

Imagine this.

You’ve taken your team to what is its ninth consecutive ACC crown. Your team just went to the national semifinals for just its second time ever in your second year. And you’re a title favorite as mid-March rolls around.

So why quit?

That’s the question Duke women’s tennis head coach Jody Hyden faced on March 26, 1997, two days after he stepped down during his third season with the Blue Devils. The Chronicle asked him this very question, and his answer was simple.

“A lot of it has to do with some things that I felt like I needed to do beyond tennis," he said. "There are certain things that I believe in and certain things that I feel are important to me professionally and personally."

One of those things, it turned out, was financial planning.

Hyden is now a private wealth advisor for his own private group, and has been in the field since at least 2001 according to a biography page on Coastal Carolina's website.

At the time, Hyden was just 32 years old, so it’s understandable why he would switch paths. In his short stint with the Blue Devils, they went 20-0 in the ACC, and he also drew the ire of a famous basketball coach.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari, then the newly-tabbed head coach of the New Jersey Nets, wanted to trademark the motto, "Refuse to Lose" from his days with Massachusetts during its Final Four run the previous year. It turned out, that copyright belonged to Hyden. According to SportsBusiness Daily, Hyden was prepared for legal action, but they ultimately settled with Calipari paying Hyden $3,500 for the rights, then publishing a book with the same name.

As for Duke? After Hyden left, then-assistant Jamie Ashworth took over, and he has not looked back. He helped the Blue Devils finish that year with a trip to the national semifinals, and in his 20 seasons at the helm, Duke has reached six NCAA Final Fours, won eight ACC championships and claimed the 2009 national championship.


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