After weeks of swirling rumors, University of Central Arkansas women’s basketball coach Matt Daniel will be officially introduced Tuesday as the new women’s coach at Marshall University.
Marshall officials have arranged for a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Huntington, W. Va, ending a 48-day search.
The opening was created by another Southland Conference opening. Royce Chadwick, who had coached the Thundering Herd for 11 seasons, left in April to become the new coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Chadwick, a native of Texas, had previously coached at Stephen F. Austin.
Daniel, a former state tourney MVP who led Jonesboro to the Class 5A title in 1994, came to UCA after a four-year stint as an assistant at the University of Missouri. Daniel has led the Sugar Bears to three straight 20-win seasons, including a regular-season Southland Conference championship last year.
Both Dr. Brad Teague, UCA athletic director, and Daniel indicated they could not comment until Tuesday.
Daniel, whose Sugar Bears are 66-26 the last three seasons, was reportedly a finalist for the Conference USA job along with Keila Whittington of Oregon and Steve Harold of Drury.
The Sugar Bears were 24-7 last season and made their first appearance in the WNIT after losing to Nicholls State in the first round of the SLC tournament. They lost in the first round to eventual champion Oklahoma State. The year before, UCA, making its first postseason appearance in NCAA Division I, lost to Alabama-Birmingham in the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
Last season, the Thundering Herd was 16-14, 7-9 in conference and had an RPI of 182. UCA’s RPI was 93. Marshall has not made an NCAA tournament appearance in 15 years. However, C-USA was 11th last season in conference RPI. The Southland Conference was 25th.
Daniel was hired in January of 2008 after Checola Seals-Horton was fired in midseason. His mandate from Teague was the build a competitive Division I program. Former UCA Sugar Bear coach Ron Marvel came out of retirement to coach the Sugar Bears through the remainder of the 2008 season so Daniel could concentrate on recruiting.
The Sugar Bears were 6-23 in Daniel’s first full season in 2008-09. In 2009-10, Daniel led the Sugar Bears to a 21-8 mark, the eighth-best turnaround in a single season in NCAA Division I history.
The Sugar Bears then posted marks of 21-12 and 24-7 last season (14-2 in the Southland regular-season race and undefeated at home).
He earned Southland Women’s Coach of the Year honors in 2010 and 2012.
He previously served as a men’s assistant at Arizona State and UT Arlington, then led Pulaski Academy’s boys to a 34-1 record in 2003-04. He moved into women’s coaching as an assistant at the University of Colorado before moving to Missouri.