Jul 11, 2018 1:48 PM - 6 days, 13 hours, 58 seconds ago
Western Kentucky AD proud of athletic, academic success
Question of the Day
By GARY B. GRAVES -
Associated Press -
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Western Kentucky athletic director Todd Stewart is proud of the school’s ongoing success in competition and classwork.
The Hilltoppers earned Conference USA titles in women’s basketball and volleyball this past year, bringing the total to 24 since entering the league in 2014. Stewart noted that his school has twice the hardware of the next closest conference member, Middle Tennessee, over the same time period.
WKU also posted a graduation rate of 85 percent with 11 of 14 programs registering at least 970 in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate. Four posted perfect 1,000 scores, making Stewart proud on multiple levels as he enters his seventh year as AD.
“Big-picture wise, I feel really good about where we are because the winning continued,” Stewart told the Associated Press. “We’ve doubled everybody up and at the same time our graduation success rate is 85 percent, the highest it’s been in WKU athletics.
“That speaks to our coaches and athletes and doing it the right way, and doing it well.”
Volleyball showed that by winning its fourth consecutive regular season and tournament titles and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Alyssa Cavanaugh was recently named C-USA Female Athlete of the Year, the third Hilltopper to earn the prestigious honor over the past four years.
Women’s basketball meanwhile won its second consecutive tournament title and third in four years under former coach Michelle Clark-Heard. The former Hilltopper player left soon after the NCAA Tournament for the head coaching job at Cincinnati, where she had been an assistant.
Stewart wasn’t shocked Clark-Heard earned another opportunity after she went 154-48 over six seasons with four NCAA appearances in Bowling Green. The AD promoted associate coach Greg Collins to the lead job, believing his familiarity with the program can maintain the winning.
“She just did a phenomenal job,” Stewart said of Clark-Heard. “We knew we had a succession plan in place, so when she decided to go to Cincinnati it was easy to name Greg the head coach, and our players are excited about that.”
Men’s basketball has generated similar anticipation after reaching the NIT semifinal under second-year coach Rick Stansbury. Early-season upsets of No. 18 Purdue and SMU spurred WKU (27-11) to achieve its highest win total in a decade before falling to Utah in New York City.
Stansbury’s next step is earning the ‘Toppers’ first NCAA appearance since 2013 with a C-USA title and automatic bid. Encouraged by an incoming class featuring 6-foot-11 Charles Bassey and a returning cast led by guard Taveion Hollingsworth - a former AP Kentucky Player of the Year - the coach believes his team is ...
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