OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Julie Goodenough resigned Monday following a third lackluster season with the Cowgirls.
Athletic director Harry Birdwell announced the resignation and said he would immediately begin a national search for a replacement.
"We will work as quickly as possible to fill this position," Birdwell said. Late Monday, Birdwell said the school had already heard from several candidates interested in the job.
He said he did not have a timetable for the hiring but hoped to have the new coach in place in time to take advantage of the spring recruiting period.
"We'd like to do it as quickly as we can, but the more important element is being sure that we find the right person," Birdwell said.
"In a perfect world, you'd have somebody in place before signing day because you might have an opportunity to impact the program immediately if you could find the right player or two," he added.
Birdwell said he thought Oklahoma State -- like any basketball program -- was only a couple star players away from being a competitive team, so Goodenough's replacement would need to be a strong recruiter.
"We didn't succeed in recruiting the absolute marquee players that we pursued, and I think perhaps that affected attendance and those kind of things because recruiting is the life blood," Birdwell said.
Goodenough was able to propel the Cowgirls to an occasional big win, but the times of promise were overshadowed by an inordinate number of losses. During her tenure, the Cowgirls were 23-61 and struggled to keep pace as the Big 12 grew more challenging. Under Goodenough, Oklahoma State was 9-43 against Big 12 competition.
Goodenough, 35, scored wins against No. 9 Arkansas in her first year and No. 24 Michigan State and No. 2 Texas Tech last season. But both seasons concluded with the Cowgirls recording only eight victories.
They nearly pulled off another upset on Jan. 29 against No. 7 Baylor, but Steffanie Blackmon hit two free throws with 0.9 seconds left for a 67-65 Lady Bears win. The Cowgirls lost their final seven games of the season and finished a 7-20 campaign with a 60-45 loss to Nebraska in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament Tuesday night.
"I want to emphatically thank the players and coaches who have given so much over the past three years," Goodenough said in a statement. "I also want to thank those who have been so supportive as we've tried to build this program. I am proud of many of the things we've accomplished, but I feel this decision is one that is in the best interest of both the Cowgirl basketball program and my family."
A spokesman for the school said Goodenough did not wish to comment beyond the statement. According to the school, Goodenough and Birdwell met earlier Monday and mutually agreed on the resignation.
Birdwell said the school would honor the final year of Goodenough's four-year contract, which had an original base salary of $135,000. Including other payments -- such as radio appearances -- Goodenough's salary was significantly higher, Birdwell said.
"Julie Goodenough is one of the finest people that I've met in my life," he said. "She's a person of extraordinary values and a person who is a terrific human being."
Goodenough's .274 winning percentage was by far the worst of the five coaches in the 33-year history of the women's basketball program at Oklahoma State.
Prior to Goodenough's arrival, the only other time Oklahoma State finished in single digits in wins was a 4-23 season in 1982-83. That was Judy Bugher's final season as the Cowgirls' coach.
Dick Halterman took over the following season and coached the team to a school-record 333 wins and nine postseason appearances in 19 seasons. Prior to the end of the 2001-02 season, former athletic director Terry Don Phillips announced he would not renew Halterman's contract because of a "need to take a different direction with the program."
Goodenough, who'd amassed a 188-54 record in nine seasons at Hardin-Simmons during its transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division III, was hired to replace Halterman in April 2002.
Birdwell said he'd be looking for someone with a Division I pedigree to replace her.
"I think these days in the Big 12, familiarity with rules and compliance and the ability to identify the kind of caliber of talent that's necessary to compete at the highest level is important," Birdwell said. "Just having worked at a Division I
institution is important in terms of hitting the ground running, so I think that is one of the important criteria."
Birdwell said the new coach would also need to be comfortable in Stillwater's college town environment, have familiarity with recruiting contacts at high schools and Amateur Athletic Union teams in the Big 12 region and hopefully have experience improving a program.