MONMOUTH, Ill. -- The all-time wins leader in Monmouth (Ill.) women’s basketball history has stepped down to continue her education.

Melissa Bittner, who compiled a 133-83 record in nine seasons guiding the Fighting Scots, has announced her departure from the college. Her .615 winning percentage also leads all coaches in the 40-year history of the program. A three-sport athlete at Monmouth, Bittner had been a fixture at Monmouth since arriving as a freshman in 1999.

“I’m extremely thankful for all the opportunities Monmouth College has afforded me,” said Bittner, who graduated in 2003. “I’ve been contemplating for some time going back to school to earn my Ph.D. and felt like this was the right time. It’s a bittersweet decision. Monmouth is a first-rate institution that I got to know both as a student and now as a coach. The hardest part will be leaving the people, the players and my colleagues, but at the same time, I’m excited to begin this new chapter in my life.”

Bittner led the team to their first Midwest Conference tournament championship and NCAA tournament appearance in 2012, the same year the league coaches voted her coach of the year. The following season, the team earned their first national ranking in the history of the program. She leaves the program after setting the school’s season record for wins during the 2012-13 campaign and posting eight consecutive winning seasons, finishing no worse than second place in the conference tournament in each of the past four years.

“Coach Bittner definitely raised the bar,” MC director of athletics Roger Haynes said. “We’ll begin a nationwide search for someone who can continue the degree of excellence Melissa has achieved. We wish her well as she furthers her education and raises a family.”

Following her graduation from Monmouth, Bittner was named an NCAA Woman of the Year finalist in the fall of 2003. In 2013, she was inducted into the Monmouth College M-Club Hall of Fame.