Monday, August 3, 2009
Report: Seattle to hire ex-Arizona coach
SEATTLE -- Joan Bonvicini, one of only 18 coaches in Division I history with more than 600 victories, will be hired as the new women's basketball coach at Seattle University, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Monday.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the school had yet to announce the hiring. A news conference has been scheduled for Tuesday morning.
Bonvicini will be inheriting a Seattle program about to begin its first full season playing a Division I schedule as part of the Redhawks transition back to the top level of college athletics.
It's Bonvicini's first job since being fired in March 2008 after 17 seasons at Arizona and a career record of 612-294.
Her time in Tucson started strong, helping lead the Wildcats to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 1996 and seven overall with Arizona. But in her final three seasons, Bonvicini struggled with a combined 29-63 record, while rival Arizona State began its assent to being one of the top programs in the Pac-10.
She finished with a 287-223 record at Arizona.
Before going to Arizona, Bonvicini had her greatest success at Long Beach State. She helped the 49ers become one of the top powers on the West Coast, going to 10 straight NCAA tournaments and a pair of Final Four appearances in 1987 and 1988.
That second Final Four was played in Tacoma, Wash. Now Bonvicini will be returning to the Northwest trying to raise the profile of the Redhawks program.
Seattle went 20-9 last season under Dan Kriley, playing a mixed schedule of Division I, II and NAIA teams and picked up victories over Division I schools San Jose State, Portland and UC Davis. It was the Redhawks' first 20-win season in 16 years.
Kriley was fired last month after going 77-59 in his five seasons at Seattle. But with the program about to embark on a full Division I schedule, the school decided to go after a bigger name to help jump start the reclassification process.
In April, the school hired Washington assistant and former UCLA star Cameron Dollar as its men's basketball coach, replacing Joe Callero who took the head job at Cal Poly.