Mercer’s Susie Gardner reacts to Landers’ retirement

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Andy Landers, the man who led the University of Georgia’s women’s basketball team for the past 36 seasons, announced Monday he is retiring.

Landers took over a program in 1979 that had gone 37-85 in its first six seasons. Since then, the Lady Bulldogs have won 862 games and have made it to 20 Sweet 16s, 11 Elite Eights and five Final Fours.

Susie Gardner, head women’s coach at Mercer, played for Landers in the 1980s and was on two of his Final Four teams.

"I was really shocked to hear the news," she said. "All the former players at Georgia got an e-mail from Coach Landers, and he was joking around in it, and then the emotion was just overwhelming for me. I had to go outside and kind of walk around and gather my thoughts. Then I went on the Georgia website and read it for sure. I don’t think it’s sunk in quite yet."

Gardner fought back tears while talking about the kind of man Landers is.

"Not only him as a coach, I mean I’ve been to his pond this past fall and went fishing for bass in his pond," she says. "And he showed me his log cabin he built from hand. I have a unique relationship with him, as do all players. He’s that guy. He’s there for you. He’ll text you when you have a big win. He’ll call you to see if you’re OK. He’s just a great person."

Gardner, who coached against Landers and beat him a few times, which she called "crazy," says she texted him after she got the news to tell him she loves him. She was looking forward to hearing back.

The Lady Bulldogs finished the season 19-12, falling to Tennessee 75-41 in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 310 Tucker Sargent joined the 41NBC news team in April 2012. He's from Alabama, but you won't catch him saying "Roll Tide!" Tucker grew up near Auburn before moving to north Alabama. He graduated from Danville High School in 2007 and loves to return to the Tennessee Valley any chance he gets. He moved back south to Troy, Alabama after high school, where he graduated from Troy University in 2011 with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism. He interned in Huntsville at WAAY-TV before joining 41NBC. His passion is sports, and his favorite teams are the Auburn Tigers and Troy Trojans. On the weekends you can catch Tucker watching college football on Saturdays and NASCAR on Sundays! He's proud to call middle Georgia home for now and could always use a story idea from you, so don't hesitate to get in touch with him!