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Lots of Change in Sun Belt Women’s Basketball

Karen Aston, courtesy

The Women’s Final Four is coming up this Sunday and Tuesday in Denver and the winds of change are blowing in the Sun Belt Conference, as already four of the schools in the league are making coaching changes in women’s basketball.

At the end of the season, Louisiana’s Errol Rogers tendered his resignation, Troy parted ways with Michael Murphy, and Western Kentucky said goodbye to Mary Taylor Cowles.

And, just this week, Florida Atlantic announced their head coach, Chancellor Dugan would not return.

The really interesting stories are the ones involving the two female coaches.

Cowles averaged nearly 20 wins per season over her ten years at WKU, but the program slipped to its worst record ever this past season as the Lady Toppers finished 8-21.  Cowles finished just one win shy of 200 for her career.  Cowles, a graduate of WKU and a former Kentucky Miss Basketball, had spent 21 years on the hill as a player, assistant coach and head coach.  Ironically, the man who made the decision to axe the popular coach left before Cowles’ replacement, Michelle Clark-Heard was hired, as Ross Bjork departed to be the new Director of Athletics at Ole Miss.

The story involving Dugan at FAU is nothing short of bizarre.

Dugan was told after last season that the 2011-12 season would be her last in Boca Raton.  It’s not often a coach gets fired a year in advance, but that’s what then-athletics director Craig Angelos decided to do.

FAU then proceeded to finish second in the Sun Belt Eastern Divison, advance to the tournament semi-finals and earn a berth in the WNIT.

And, before Angelos could revisit the decision, he was fired by University President, Dr. Mary Jane Saunders.

Dugan was then offered a one-year extension, but felt she was deserving of more.  She declined the offer.

Louisiana, Troy and FAU are currently conducting coaching searches.

Now, there’s news that there could be a fifth opening in the league.

Karen Aston, who just completed her first season as head coach at North Texas, has interviewed for the vacant job at Texas. Aston is a former assistant for the Longhorns.  Aston returned to the Lone Star State after a stint as the head coach at Charlotte.

She’s considered to be one of the front-runners for the UT job.

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