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College Basketball

Towson women’s basketball seeking to hire new head coach after Diane Richardson’s departure to Temple

Towson athletic director Dr. Steven Eigenbrot said he has received “dozens” of calls, texts and emails in a 24-hour span since Temple announced that it had lured away Tigers women’s basketball coach Diane Richardson to lead its program.

“My phone is definitely on fire right now,” he said Wednesday morning. “There are a lot of people excited about the opportunity, and they should be.”

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About an hour before, the Owls introduced Richardson as their 20th head coach. Richardson, 63, replaces Tonya Cardoza, whose contract was not renewed after the 2021-22 season.

During her introductory conference Wednesday morning, Richardson acknowledged the burden of following Cardoza, the school’s all-time winningest coach with a 251-188 record, and her predecessor Dawn Staley, who has since guided South Carolina to NCAA championships in 2017 and 2022.

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“I’ve got a road ahead of me,” Richardson quipped, “but I’m prepared.”

Richardson left a Towson program that made more postseason appearances during her five-year tenure (two) than it had in its previous 49 years (one). Richardson amassed an 80-66 mark, led the 2021-22 squad to a single season-record 24 victories and guided the 2018-19 team to the school’s first NCAA Tournament berth.

Richardson also developed Kionna Jeter into becoming the first player in Tigers history to be chosen in the WNBA draft when she was selected in the third round a year ago. Jeter was also the first player in program history to earn three consecutive All-Colonial Athletic Association first-team honors.

Eigenbrot said Temple athletic director Arthur Johnson informed him last Thursday that he and the school’s search committee were interested in interviewing Richardson for the head coaching vacancy. Richardson said Wednesday the interest was mutual.

“Well, I’ve got to tell you that I’ve eyed this program for a long, long time, but you can’t get anywhere unless they call you,” she said. “So once I got that call though, I was really elated, and it was something that was a goal of mine and [I] was just happy to get the call and happy to go through the process and happy to go through the committee and finally got the OK that I would be the next head women’s basketball coach here at Temple.”

Johnson said Richardson was “my favorite” for the job, adding that he admired her decision to walk away from a career in finance that included a position as vice president for national neighborhood lending at Bank of America to pursue basketball.

“Her career as a student-athlete, hearing part of her story and her journey, and then what she was able to do prior to getting into basketball,” he said. “She walked away from a very successful and lucrative career to do something that she loved. So her love and compassion. And some of the things our student-athletes asked for after we made the decision was someone who was caring, someone who was going to hold them accountable, and someone who loves people. Coach Rich was fitting all of those categories.”

Eigenbrot, who started his new role March 28 after serving as a deputy athletic director at South Carolina for 12 years, said he would like to begin interviewing applicants as early as next week with an eye toward hiring the program’s 11th head coach by the end of the month.

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“I think Diane left a really good template for what we could build off of,” he said. “So [I am looking for] someone that connects with the players the way that she did, and obviously, she did a great job in recruiting, and her offense was dynamic. So I think that’s something we’ll definitely keep an eye on. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and she may have fixed our basketball program quite honestly. So I think we are grateful for that. Would we love to have a sitting head coach? Sure. But at the end of the day, I think other variables will probably be just as important.”

Eigenbrot acknowledged that a few players on the Tigers roster might opt to enter the transfer portal to join Richardson at Temple.

“That’s something that is definitely of concern,” he said. “I’d love for those young ladies to stay and build on what we’ve done here. But I wouldn’t be shocked if a few of them were to follow Coach Rich there or end up at other places. We’re going to try to handle our search with great expediency, and being the new guy, I’ve got to figure out what that means and what that entails. I’m trying to close this period as quick as we can and get a new face in there with an opportunity to recruit the girls that are on roster and see how many of those young ladies are willing to stick around and continue building on what they’ve already done here.”

As much as he would have preferred Richardson to stay at Towson, Eigenbrot credited Richardson with making the school a desirable destination for coaches and players.

“Coach Rich did an amazing job with the program during her tenure here, and it’s a much more attractive job than it was when she got here,” he said. “So I’ve had a lot of coaches and agents and people reach out to me about their interest in the program.”


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