North Texas' 35-day search for a women's basketball coach has concluded. According to a source, Clemson associate head coach Shanice Stephens will be the Mean Green's next coach, only the fifth in the history of a program that began in 1976.
Stephens nudged out Texas A&M associate head coach Vic Schaefer, former UT-Arlington coach Donna Capps and Oklahoma State assistant Kenya Larkin for the job. It wasn't an easy choice; AD Rick Villarreal had to say no to Gary Blair's right-hand man, a coach that put UTA in the NCAA Tournament twice and a Big 12 assistant with a bright future. Tough call.
Critics of Stephens might say Clemson (12-19) didn't have the best season. An Oklahoma native with strong Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth recruiting ties, Stephens for nine years helped build Rice into a strong mid-major program -- success that UNT wants to duplicate if the formula applies.
Was Stephens the best person available? It's uncertain, but less hazy is this: Villarreal didn't have a snowball's chance of hiring a male coach. UNT administrators on the other side of I-35 were looking over his shoulder on this one, and he knew what he had to do.
UNT has called an 11 a.m. press conference on Wednesday to introduce Stephens.