Drew Johnson named head women’s basketball coach at UNK

KEARNEY  Former Newman University head coach Drew Johnson has been hired as head women’s basketball coach at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Director of Athletics Marc Bauer announced today.

UNK will formally introduce Johnson as its eighth coach in team history at a 10 a.m. news conference Thursday (May 11) at UNK’s Health and Sports Center.

“My family and I are grateful to be headed to UNK, and I’m especially thankful to be able to raise our two boys in such a caring community. The people were the first thing to stand out to me,” said Johnson. “Dr. Bauer laid out a vision that aligns perfectly with mine to develop student-athletes on and off the court. The community at Kearney is also second to none. I am excited to connect with the passionate fanbase and continue to lead this program forward.”

Johnson, 34, helped rebuild the women’s basketball programs at both MIAA-member Newman University (Wichita) and Bethel College (North Newton, Kan.). Additionally, he was a nine-year high school coach in Kansas (Valley Center, Derby and Clay Center) and co-founded Ohlde Elite, an AAU program. During his high school and club tenures, he coached players who went on to not only play in the MIAA and Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC), but also many Division I conferences such as the Big XII and Big East.

Marc Bauer
Marc Bauer

“We are thrilled to welcome Drew Johnson and his family to the Loper athletics program,” said Bauer. “Drew comes highly recommended from sources close to the program. His proven ability to develop women’s basketball players and leaders will help our program continue to thrive in a tough MIAA conference and region.”

An All-KCAC punter at Friends University (Wichita), Johnson took over a Bethel Threshers program that was 4-23 (2-20) the year prior to his arrival. He promptly tripled the win total in year one, then set a new program record for victories (20) in year two. The following winter, Bethel set several school records en route to hosting its first KCAC Tournament game in eight years. Finally, the Threshers won 16 games in 2020-21 and advanced to the NAIA National Tournament for the first time.

At Newman, the Jets beat Central Oklahoma in the 2023 regular-season finale to reach the MIAA Tournament for the first time in program history. NU also had a seven-win improvement from the year before, with Britney Ho earning third-team All-MIAA honors and reaching 1,000 career points.

Johnson replaces Carrie Eighmey, who was UNK’s head coach the past eight seasons.

“Drew is a process-driven coach with a proven track record of winning at every step of his career. He’s recruited extensively in the Midwest, assembling teams that are competitive. He has MIAA coaching experience and knows the competitiveness and strength of the conference,” said Bauer.

UNK has gone 101-23 over the past four seasons, reaching three NCAA Division II Tournaments and winning the 2021 MIAA Tournament title and 2023 MIAA regular-season title.

“Success doesn’t happen by accident. My goal is to build a championship culture that grows every aspect of the student-athlete. The standard has been set, and I look forward to leading this program to many more milestones,” said Johnson.

At Bethel, he coached nine All-KCAC honorees, including three NAIA All-Americans. Hometown product and under-recruited Abby Schmidt became a three-time All-American under Johnson’s tutelage, setting a new KCAC record for rebounds (1,399) along the way. She also was a three-time KCAC Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time all-league selection.

“We set out to find a leader who will develop young women on and off the court, and I am confident Drew will be a tremendous coach and mentor for the women in our program,” Bauer said. “I know Coach Johnson is excited to get started and continue to build and elevate the program.”

He and his wife, Nicole, have two sons, Dax and Cooper.

Meet Drew Johnson

Coaching Experience

  • Newman University, head coach (2021-23)
  • Bethel College, head coach (2017-21)
  • Ohlde Elite AAU (2014-17)
  • Nine years of high school experience at Clay Center, Derby and Valley Center

Personal: A native of Hutchinson, Kansas, Johnson and his wife, former WNBA and Kansas State star Nicole Ohlde, have two sons, Dax and Cooper. Nicole was co-head coach at Newman, an assistant coach at Bethel and worked with Ohlde Elite.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in education, Friends University, 2011.

Playing Experience: Two-year co-captain and four-year letterwinner on the Friends football team … All-KCAC punter … helped the Falcons go 33-9.

UNK All-Time Head Women’s Basketball Coaches

Coach                           Years                                 Record (Win Pct.)

Amy Stephens            1995-02 (8)                     197-43 (82.0)

Carrie Eighmey          2016-23 (8)                     165-74 (69.0)

Carol Russell              2003-10 (8)                     163-79 (67.4)

Dan Wurtz                  1983-93 (11)                     153-149 (51.2)

Connie Hansen          1968-82 (14)                    145-139 (51.0)

Kevin Chaney             2011-15 (5)                       50-85 (37.0)

Joe Sanchez                1993-94 (1)                      19-9 (67.8)

                                     55 Years                       892-578 (60.6)