University of Nebraska at Kearney Director of Athletics Jon McBride announced that Carol Russell has been selected as the new head women’s basketball coach at UNK after a nationwide search. A native of Manhattan, Kan., Russell has ties to Nebraska. She was a four year letterwinner at Nebraska and graduated from UNL in 1993 with a B.S. degree in Exercise Science. Her coaching career includes stops at Bradley (Peoria, Ill.), UNL, Division II Truman State (Kirksville, Mo.) and, most recently, Division I Texas-Pan American (Edinburg, Tex.).
“You always hope to find a perfect fit in a job search and I think UNK has found that in Carol Russell. Her professional and personal ideologies are in sync with the mission of this university,” McBride said. “She has special ties to Nebraska, hails from the Midwest and has proven coaching experience on both the Division I and II levels. We are truly excited to have Carol join us as we embark on a new era of UNK women’s basketball.”
Russell was named head coach at UTPA on May 1st after the resignation of head coach Karin Nicholls. Russell was the Lady Broncs associate head coach and recruiting coordinator the last two seasons. UTPA, one of the few independent schools remaining in Division I, had its best season ever in Division I during the 2000-01 campaign and defeated the likes of Wyoming and Texas-El Paso over the past two seasons.
Prior to Pan American, Nicholls and Russell were at Truman for five years where they helped rebuild the Bulldog program. The process culminated during the 1998-99 season when TSU went 22-9 and advanced to the South Central Regional finals of the NCAA Tournament. During the 1995-96 campaign, the first for Nicholls and Russell at TSU, UNK traveled to Truman and fell to the Bulldogs, 67-62. The Lopers finished that season 26-5 and 16-0 in the RMAC.
“I am very excited about this opportunity at UNK. Amy Stephens has done a tremendous job as the head coach and has some great players returning this year,” Russell said. “I look forward to being a part of a winning tradition at UNK and part of the Kearney community.”
Russell’s coaching career started at Bradley during the 1993-94 season. She then spent the 1994-95 campaign at UNL under head coach Angela Beck.
Russell played in 105 games in her career, starting 25 times. As a senior, she not only was team captain but also earned the Leadership and Hustle Award. Earning Academic All-Big 12 honors in the 1989-90 season, Russell shares the UNL record for highest field goal percentage in a game when she made all 10 shots she took in a 1991 home win over Oklahoma.
UNK returns two starters and six letterwinners from a team that went 23-7 and made its seventh straight trip to the NCAA Tournament last winter. The Lopers will also get back the services of junior forward Allison Kruger (872 career points), who missed most of last year with a stress fracture in her foot.