Sandra Rushing, who had a highly successful 10 years at Delta State University, will be officially introduced Thursday as the new coach of the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears, two days after the vacancy was created.
UCA officials have set a news conference at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Hall of Fame Room at Estes Stadium to introduce the new coach. The public is invited.
GoStatesmen.com, the official athletic site of Delta State, posted late Wednesday night that Rushing had resigned to become the UCA coach.
“I want to thank coach Rushing for her time here at Delta State and her dedication to continuing the winning tradition of our Lady Statesmen basketball program,” said Jeremy McClain, DSU athletic director. “Over the last 10 seasons, coach Rushing has kept Delta State at the forefront of women’s basketball on a national level and the program is in a great position as we move forward.”
“Delta State is a special place with special people and I will always appreciate the opportunity to lead one of the game’s cornerstone programs,” Rushing said in a statement on the website. “This was an extremely difficult decision, but one that was necessary at this time in my career. I wish the Lady Statesmen program all the best as it moves forward. I also want to thank Dr. John Hilpert and Jeremy McClain for all the support over the years.”
Rushing took over the program in 2002 from legendary former head coach Lloyd Clark and embarked on one of the most successful stints in school history. The Biloxi, Miss., native led the Lady Statesmen to four straight Gulf South Conference championships from 2005-2006 to 2008-2009 and back-to-back trips to the NCAA Division II Final Four in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. Rushing guided eight Lady Statesmen squads to the NCAA Tournament and recorded seven consecutive Sweet 16 finishes.
She averaged 25.4 wins per season during her time at DSU, including a 198-30 record over the last seven seasons. Her teams won a school-record 64-straight wins at home from Jan. 27, 2007 to Nov. 13, 2011 and were 132-9 at home.
Dr. Brad Teague, University of Central Arkansas’ athletic director who promised to move quickly after Matt Daniel was officially introduced Tuesday afternoon as Marshall University coach, operated with sprinter’s speed.
Tuesday, he reportedly interviewed Tony Kemper, Daniel’s associate head coach for two seasons and a former member of former men’s coach Rand Chappell’s staff at UCA.
Wednesday, several sources reported sightings on the UCA campus of Rushing, who compiled a 254-58 record at DSU.
She was the coach of the Lady Statesmen when Teague was athletic director of Delta State.
Rushing’s latest team finished 22-7 and was No. 5 in the country when it lost to No. 1 Rollins in the NCAA Division II South Regional in March. It marked the first time Delta State had not made the Division II Sweet Sixteen in six years.
Her best team compiled a 33-1 record in 2007-08, losing to South Dakota in the final four. The Lady Statesmen returned to the final four the next season.
She has also coached at Henderson State (2002) and Texas-El Paso, where she became the winngest women’s coach in school history. She was co-Coach of the Year in the Western Athletic Conferende in 1997-98.
She played college basketball at the University of Alabama, where she became the all-time leader in free throw percentage for the Tide women.
Kemper is speculated that he is likely to join Daniel’s staff at Marshall.