EDINBURG - Karin Nicholls has been hired as the new head women's basketball coach for The University of Texas-Pan American, Athletics Director William Weidner said Wednesday.
Nicholls, a native of Decatur, Ill., comes to Edinburg from Truman State University (Mo.), where she led the Bulldogs to a 71-64 record and a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Division II national tournament.
"After an extensive national search that featured more than 70 applicants, we are pleased to announce the hiring of Karin Nicholls as our new head women's basketball coach," Weidner said. "Karin is a dynamic leader who will bring much needed stability to our program.
“Nicholls has earned the respect and admiration of many of the top people in intercollegiate athletics. She is an individual of unquestioned integrity and character who is clearly one of the top young head coaches in the country. We welcome her as the newest member of the Bronc/Lady Bronc family."
Nicholls came to Truman looking, to turn around a program that had just one winning season in 13 years.
In 1998-99, she led the Bulldogs to a school record 22-9 mark, their first-ever NCAA postseason win and a Sweet 16 appearance.
Last season, she led them to a 17-9 record.
Nicholls has been able to recruit outstanding players. At Truman, she coached two players who were chosen NCAA Division II All-Americans.
This past season, Kelli Kreuser was named Kodak All-American Honorable Mention for her play, averaging 17.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
The Lady Broncs posted a 6-21 record during the 1999-2000 season.
Nicholls, however, looks forward to the challenge of building a program that can compete at the national level in NCAA Division I.
"I saw a wonderful opportunity to turn around a basketball program," said Nicholls. "I saw a ton of support and wanting to succeed in the administration, staff and fellow coaches at UTPA. There's a really healthy atmosphere where everyone wants everyone else to succeed. I'm looking forward to being a part of that."
Prior to Truman State, Nicholls spent three years as a full-time assistant and recruiting coordinator at the University of Nebraska.
She coached Anna DeForge, an All-American for the Huskers who played professionally for the San Jose Lasers of the American Basketball Association and currently for the Detroit Shock of the WNBA.
While at Nebraska, Nicholls helped the team advance to the round of 32 at the NCAA Tournament in the 1992-93 season. She also served on the staff at the University of Illinois from 1991-92, where she earned her master's degree in sports administration and management.
"It's obvious that we need to establish ourselves by bringing in quality recruits," said Nicholls. "That's what's going to set ourselves apart from the pack. The Rio Grande Valley is a wonderful place to recruit to, and I'm looking forward to getting started. There's a lot of talent on the team right now. We just have to make ourselves the hardest working team out there this coming season."
Weidner is optimistic Nicholls will bring the same success to UTPA.
"Karin Nicholls is a builder of successful and respected programs," Weidner said. "She has a proven track record as a head coach of not only building programs from the ground up, but of also having the ability to sustain that success. Her commitment in regards to academic achievement and her true concern for the student-athlete is well-documented. In addition, her NCAA Division I background as a recruiting coordinator and a top assistant coach with two major programs from two outstanding conferences gives her a true understanding of just what it takes to establish a competitive winning program. We look forward to achieving our goal of developing a nationally respected NCAA Division I women's basketball program under Karin Nicholls' direction as we enter a new era of Lady Bronc Basketball."
Nicholls also proved herself on the court as a player for Bradley University from 1987-90. She was a four-year letterwinner for the Braves and was named Gateway Conference Freshman of the Year in 1987.
Nicholls also earned All-Gateway honors her junior and senior year. She led the Braves in scoring, rebounds and assists during her last two seasons. She finished her career as the third leading scorer and fifth leading rebounder in Bradley history.
In 1990, she received Bradley University's highest honor, the Alumni B Club Athlete of the Year Award.
In 1994, she received another impressive honor, becoming just the second female to be inducted into the Bradley Hall of Fame.