March 13, 2012 10:51:07 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Vic Schaefer will be the next women's basketball coach at Mississippi State University.
Multiple sources confirmed to The Dispatch that the associate head coach at Texas A&M University will be named as MSU's seventh head coach in school history at 11 a.m. today in a news conference at the Bryan Athletic Building.
Schaefer informed the players and coaches at Texas A&M of his decision Monday evening after the NCAA women's tournament selection show.
Messages to MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin weren't immediately returned.
Schaefer will replace Sharon Fanning-Otis less than a month after she announced her decision to retire as coach at the end of the 2011-12 season. Fanning-Otis is the all-time winningest women's basketball coach in MSU history with 281 victories. Earlier this season, she became the 14th Division I head women's basketball coach to amass 600 career wins.
"The timing of Sharon's announcement gives us the opportunity to begin looking for our next women's basketball coach," Stricklin said on Feb. 20, in a university release. "As always, we'll identify a hard-working, intelligent coach who can move this program forward."
Schaefer is finishing his 15th season working for coach Gary Blair, and his ninth season at Texas A&M. It is unknown if Schaefer will coach Texas A&M in the NCAA tournament. The No. 22 Aggies (22-10) received a No. 3 seed in their quest to defend their national championship. Texas A&M lost to No. 1 Baylor on Saturday in the Big 12 Conference tournament final.
Last year, Texas A&M won the program's first national title in its first trip to the NCAA Women's Final Four. Texas A&M earned a program-best No. 1 ranking in the national polls and a school-record sixth-straight NCAA tournament appearance. It closed out the year with a 33-5 record, marking the most victories in program history.
MSU went 14-16 this season and has finished under .500 in the two seasons after the school made it the Sweet 16 for the first time in 2009-10.
With Schaefer's guidance on defense, the Aggies claimed the top turnover margin in the country last season after finishing third best in the nation in 2009. In 2009, Texas A&M reached the Sweet 16. In 2008, it reached the Elite Eight. The Aggies then garnered their third straight Big 12 Championship in 2010.
Schaefer also has been a part of eight top-20 recruiting classes while at Texas A&M and Arkansas. He helped sign the No. 6 class in the nation in 2008-09, the No. 5 class in the nation in 2009-10, and the third-best class in the nation two years ago -- the highest-rated classes in school history.
Bret McCormick, a former Division I assistant coach and longtime recruiting analyst for All-Star Girls Report, feels Schaefer has a great personality, is a good family man, and has a lot of connections that will help him at MSU.
"I think he'll do a good job and he is a good coach," McCormick said. "He is a great defensive coach, he is a good recruiter and he is very well known and very well liked in the fraternity of coaches."
McCormick said Schaefer may be able to recruit kids from Texas to MSU. That move could prove beneficial next season when Texas A&M and the University of Missouri join the SEC. McCormick also said Schaefer has strong ties to the junior college ranks. He may need to use those connections considering MSU loses six seniors, including its two leading scorers, Diamber Johnson and Porsha Porter, to graduation.
Still, McCormick feels MSU presents a lot of challenges, but he likes Schaefer's chances.
"He is going to have to change his recruiting base and be able to recruit Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi and bring in players to Mississippi State," McCormick said. "I think he is nice and that the girls really like him. He is tough on the court and hard nosed. That is what defense is, being hard nosed and playing hard and wanting to do it."
Schaefer was one of five Division I assistant coaches to be named BasketballScoop.com's 2009 Coaches of the Year while working primarily with the Aggies' post players.
"Vic is the ultimate family man who brings family to our basketball team," Blair said in a school statement. "We play defense like a family and he has undoubtedly turned A&M into one of the best defensive ball clubs in the country."
Schaefer previously coached at the University of Arkansas under Blair from 1997-2003. While on the Razorbacks bench, he directed the program's defensive strategy, post players, opponent scouting, and assisted in recruiting and scheduling. His best player in Fayetteville, Ark., was Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and All-SEC First-Team selection Shameka Christon, who plays in the WNBA for the Chicago Sky.
While MSU's administration didn't say head-coaching experience would be an important prerequisite, Schaefer's coaching résumé also includes time as head women's basketball coach at Sam Houston State University (1990-97), where he coached Southland Conference Player of the Year Sierena Autman in his first season in 1990-91. In three of his last four seasons at SHSU, his players won the SLC's Freshman or Newcomer of the Year honor. In 1996, when he was voted SLC Coach of the Year, Schaefer was honored for leading the program to its most wins in a decade (18-10).
Schaefer's wife, Holly, played basketball at Arkansas State and was later an assistant coach at the University of Texas at Arlington. The couple has twin 16-year-olds, Blair Nicole and Charles Logan.
Schaefer interviewed for the head coach vacancy at the University of New Mexico days after the Aggies won the national championship, but the position eventually went to UNM associate head coach Yvonne Sanchez.
Dispatch Sports Editor Adam Minichino contributed to this report.