Women's Hoop Applicants a "Pleasant Surprise"

Applications are closed for the women's basketball head coaching job at Oregon St., and search committee chairwoman and associate athletic director Marianne Vydra said she was "pleasantly surprised" at the applicants who turned in their résumés by the deadline last Sunday night.

The eight person selection committee is now reviewing the applications from a mix of candidates with experience as head and assistant coaches at the Division I, II and III head and assistant coaches, as well as head and assistant WNBA coaches. Most are currently in head coaching positions. Vydra declined to identify any of the candidates by name, but Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis has said a number of current Division I head coaches have applied for the job.

Vydra termed the turnout as "robust", and said the committee hopes to conduct phone interviews before bringing candidates to campus, possibly next week. There is no deadline for a hire, but De Carolis has previously said he hopes to have a coach hired by July 1.

"We're looking for someone who has the ability to be a good leader, someone who's a good fit at OSU and cares about student-athlete welfare and academics and winning," Vydra said. "We want someone who's been a little bit road-tested and had success. We're looking for a good teammate for our (other) head coaches."

Men's basketball coach Craig Robinson is a member of the search committee, the only Beavers' head coach in the group.

The new coach will replace LaVonda Wagner, who was released after five years, after most of the players on the Oregon St. roster left the program. Only four players remain on the roster, and two of them had requested their release before Wagner's departure.

With a payout potentially in the range of $1.2 million dollars for the remaining years on Wagner's contract, and a probable dip in attendance as a result of what will be a very young and inexperienced team in the next couple of years, the next coach's contract will be heavily "back-loaded", paying the larger portion only after some years with smaller amounts.

As a result, a strong pool of candidates seems to have exceeded De Carolis and Vydra's initial hopes and expectations. A good thing, given the difficult challenge the Pac-10/12 will provide.

In addition to the existing opponents, including Stanford, who reached the National Championship game, and California, winners of the Women's NIT, conference expansion brings new competition.

Colorado is coming off a 13-17 season, but Utah, who reached the Mt. West Conference championship game, and the second round of the Women's NIT, before losing to Cal, is coming off a 23-12 season.

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