Legendary Women's Basketball Coach Paul Sanderford Returns To WKU

Aug. 8, 2003

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The all-time winningest women's basketball coach in Western Kentucky University's history is returning to the Hill.

Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig announced Friday that Paul Sanderford - who led the Lady Topper program from 1982-97 - has been hired as Assistant to the Athletic Director. He will be responsible for fund-raising (annual giving, individual program enhancement fund assistance, capital gift fund-raising for athletic facility projects), selling television and radio sponsorship packages, and working with Western's radio and television networks on a part-time basis.

"I am really excited about coming 'home'. The vision for athletics that has been created by President (Gary) Ransdell and Dr. Selig make it a great time to join the team," said Sanderford. "I chose to make Bowling Green home because of all the great people. My goal is to help the University and the Athletic Department continue to grow. We need to get everyone in the state and community on board."

"We are thrilled to welcome Paul Sanderford back to Western and Hilltopper athletics. The coaching profession's loss has quickly become our athletic administration's gain," Selig said. "Paul is so well-known and respected around the Commonwealth. We intend to utilize his services externally via fund-raising, marketing, and perhaps even with the Big Red Radio Network and Hilltopper Sports Satellite Television Network."

Sanderford compiled a 365-120 (75.3%) record in 15 seasons at WKU, leading the Lady Toppers to a runner-up finish in the 1992 NCAA Tournament as well as the Final Four in 1985 and '86. In all, Western appeared in the postseason in his final 14 years, including 12 berths in the NCAA Tournament, earning five Sun Belt Conference regular-season championships and seven SBC Tournament titles. WKU won 20 or more games on 13 occasions during his tenure, collecting a school-record 32 victories during the 1985-86 season.

He is also the second-winningest coach at Nebraska, where he posted an 88-69 (56.1%) mark from 1997-02. Sanderford led the Cornhuskers to a 23-10 record and the second round of the NCAA Tournament in his first year in Lincoln, tying the school record for wins. He added another 20-win season and two more NCAA appearances, becoming the first NU coach to take the team to consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

Sanderford spent six seasons as the head coach at Louisburg (N.C.) College, leading the Hurricanes to a 163-19 (89.6%) record, including the 1981 National Junior College Athletic Association national championship. He was named the NJCAA National Coach of the Year in 1982, and was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2000.

He ranks in the top 35 in NCAA Division I women's basketball history in both all-time victories (453 - 31st) and all-time winning percentage (70.6% - 30th)

In addition to his coaching duties, Sanderford was active off the court in helping build support for each of his programs. His efforts helped Nebraska increase season tickets from 225 to 2,500 and average attendance from 1,100 to 4,500, while at WKU the Lady Toppers ranked among the top 10 in the nation in average attendance on six occasions. Sanderford also developed sponsorship for a weekly women's basketball television show.

"Paul has an excellent grasp of what it takes to run a successful Division I athletic program," said Selig. "We intend to access his insight and intuition in our efforts to continue the athletic transformation of Western into one of the most respected and successful programs in the country."

"I feel my experience can help the great young coaches at Western," Sanderford said. "I also think that with some innovative marketing and promotions, we can continue to grow our fan base."

He earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from Methodist (N.C.) College in 1972 and a master's degree in guidance counseling two years later from North Carolina State.

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