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UNLV’s Kathy Olivier resigns as women’s basketball coach

Updated March 6, 2020 - 5:17 pm

Kathy Olivier, who returned to her alma mater to coach the UNLV women’s basketball team but failed to make the NCAA Tournament in 12 seasons, resigned Friday.

Olivier went 182-193 at UNLV, after a 232-208 record in 15 seasons at UCLA.

“We wish her well and know that she will continue to remain involved with the program as a decorated alumnae,” UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said in a statement.

Olivier, 60, had one year left on her contract, which would have paid her $190,000. She received a four-year extension in 2017.

“I am proud of the accomplishments that we were able to achieve together,” Olivier said in a statement. “We have a talented team, and I am confident that our ladies will stay focused on reaching success in the classroom, on the court and in the community.”

Attempts to reach Olivier for further comment were unsuccessful.

A UNLV news release said the school will conduct a national search.

Reed-Francois’ hiring track record is to seek a coach who is considered up and coming. That was her formula in filling UNLV’s two most high-profile positions — men’s basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger last year and football coach Marcus Arroyo in December. Otzelberger was hired after three years at South Dakota State, and Arroyo was Oregon’s offensive coordinator the past three seasons.

Going by that criteria, Reed-Francois could consider coaches such as Missouri State’s Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, Central Michigan’s Heather Oesterle, Drake’s Jennie Baranczyk or South Dakota’s Dawn Plitzuweit. All coach teams with RPIs in the top 30.

Agugua-Hamilton, 25-4 in her first season at Missouri State, won the Missouri Valley Conference title. She also was the school’s first African-American female head coach.

Oesterle is 22-6 with the Mid-American Conference championship in her first season at Central Michigan. She was an assistant there the previous nine seasons.

Baranczyk is 174-83 in eight seasons at Drake, which includes three successive Missouri Valley titles. Drake is 22-7 this season.

Plitzuweit is 107-24 in four years at South Dakota, including 27-2 this season. She is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Award. South Dakota has won the conference title two of the past three seasons.

The last time the position came open, UNLV turned to one of its all-time great players in Olivier. She was an All-America player at UNLV, averaging 16.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in the 1979-80 season. Olivier, then known as Kathy Ricks, averaged 20.2 points and 9.2 rebounds the following season.

After the long stint at UCLA, she managed just four winning seasons at UNLV, though the Lady Rebels won a share of the Mountain West regular-season championship two years ago.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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