Jeff Dow is getting back on the bench.
Dow, the former head women’s basketball coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was named to the same position Tuesday morning at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Dow, whose contract was not renewed by IUP following the 2012-13 season, did not coach last season. A 24-year veteran of the coaching ranks, he has a career record of 221-109 in 11 seasons as a head coach, including a 108-40 mark in five seasons at IUP.
“I feel great,” Dow said shortly after his introductory news conference. “Obviously this is a special opportunity when you have the chance to be a Division I head coach. I’m truly honored that this position has been bestowed upon me. I feel like ULM is a place that has won in the past, and I guess part of this is my own confidence, but I feel like they’ve won in the past and can do it again.”
No longer an IUP Crimson Hawk, Dow is now a ULM Warhawk. Brian Wickstrom, the director of athletics at the Division I school, introduced Dow as the sixth coach in program history. Dow succeeds Mona Martin, who retired March 17 following her 19th season. ULM finished 11-20 last season.
“I am excited to have Jeff take over our women’s basketball program,” Wickstrom said.
“His track record of high academic success and winning percentage as a coach will help us deliver the best student-athlete experience possible. During the process, we spoke with a lot of administrators, student-athletes and community members about Jeff. He received high marks from all groups.”
Dow, Wickstrom and Kevin Price, ULM’s senior associate director of athletics and chairman of the search committee, worked together when Dow was an assistant coach at Santa Clara in 2000-02.
“We are excited to welcome aboard a proven winner with a history of success in new head coach Jeff Dow,” Price said. “He is highly thought of in the coaching community. Coach Dow really stood out in our process for his experience at the Division I and II levels. We look forward to benefiting from his vision and energy.”
IUP did not renew Dow’s contract last April. Administrators never commented on the reason his contract was not renewed, but it came after an anonymous letter was delivered to a Pittsburgh media outlet that alleged Dow mistreated players. In one incident, Dow did throw a basketball during a practice that struck a player in the head, but he said it was accidental and he was not targeting the player.
Dow denied he mistreated players, and after his contract was not renewed he sought to take legal action against the university, but he said he recently decided to discontinue legal recourse.
During that tumultuous year, Dow said he never lost hope that he would return to the profession.
“I always had confidence and a belief that I’d be given this opportunity,” he said. “Over the course of 24 years as a coach, and the last eight as a head coach when we averaged 23 wins, I was confident somebody out there would see that and be interested, and fortunately the opportunity has come about. I certainly never gave up hope.”
ULM received a number of letters of recommendation from former players, including four from IUP, as well as coaches and administrators from other institutions. Their comments are posted on the ULM athletics website.
Despite the rocky ending to his career at IUP, Dow said he will always have fond memories of Indiana and his time at the university and in the community.
“There are a lot of good people in the athletic department, fellow coaches, boosters, faculty, neighbors, people who have become lifelong friends,” he said. “Of course, I met Emily, my wife, there, and we had Chloe, our daughter, there, so Indiana and IUP are always going to be a special part of our lives.”
ULM competes in the Sun Belt Conference. The program is fully funded with 15 scholarships, the maximum allowed in Division I. There are 11 players returning to the program, and three recruits signed during the early signing period in the fall, but four senior starters are due to graduate next month.
“I do recognize the tremendous challenge in front of us with the graduation of four seniors, who essentially started every game the last two years and of course were the four leading scorers,” Dow said. “It will certainly be a rebuilding project, and I’m definitely excited, but I realize we’re starting at ground zero. But I feel like everything is in place here to be a competitive program, and I feel like four or five years from now we’ll be consistently in the top four of the Sun Belt Conference and in position to play in the NCAA tournament.”
Dow said the first order of business is assembling a coaching staff.
“Obviously I have to start working on putting together a staff,” he said. “Recruiting-wise, there’s really not a lot that can be done at this point. There are 11 returning players, plus three signed during the early period, so there are 14 players in the program. We may look at possibly getting one late signee, perhaps a junior college prospect. But there’s not a lot that can be done in the way or recruiting, but next year that will change in a hurry because there will be six seniors on next year’s roster.”