UTEP’s Adams hired as women’s coach

Wichita State has hired Oxford native Keitha Adams as the next women’s basketball coach, Athletic Director Darron Boatright announced on Wednesday.

Adams spent the past 16 seasons at the University of Texas-El Paso, leading the Miners to all four of the program’s postseason bids (two NCAA and two WNIT). After losing four starters to a 29-5 Conference USA championship team, the Miners went 8-23 this season.

“We are excited to welcome Keitha Adams to Wichita State University as head coach of our women’s basketball program,” Boatright said in a news release. “I admire her experience in various levels of basketball and believe it has prepared her for this opportunity. Keitha has worked extremely hard and has earned everything that coaching has provided to her.”

Compiling a 284-209 overall record at the school, Adams led UTEP to their first and only victory in the NCAA Tournament in 2008 when they defeated Western Kentucky in the first round. The Miners were the runner-up in the Women’s NIT in 2014 and reached the quarterfinals in 2016.

The three-time Conference USA Coach of the Year coached at Independence Community College in Kansas where she helped send nine players to Division I schools, with former ICC player Svetlana Volnaya being drafted by the WNBA’s Detroit Shock in 2001. Adams led ICC to a 127-37 record in five seasons, including back-to-back Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference titles in 2000 and 2001.

Adams is Oxford High School’s all-time leading scorer and earned all-state honors, with the school retiring her jersey in 1986.

When asked about qualities the athletic department looks for in the next WSU coaching candidate, Boatright mentioned in an exclusive interview with The Sunflower before the hiring the department preferred someone with Division I coaching experience and had some ties to Kansas.

“We prefer someone with head coaching experience, has ties to the midwest and/or Kansas and someone who is prepared to coach this program to a high-level of success on and off the court,” Boatright said on March 1.

Adams will replace Jody Adams-Birch, who left the program on Jan. 22 and has no relation to the former UTEP coach. Adams-Birch was replaced by Linda Hargrove on an interim basis, who helped the Shockers get their final seven wins of the season.

Hargrove worked with Boatright in the selection process of the program’s new head coach.

“Keitha was one of my first hires and has been with us for 16 years. She has done an absolutely unbelievable job,” UTEP athletic director Bob Stall said in a news release. “We hate to see her leave, but understand the desire to go home. We can’t thank her enough for everything she has done for UTEP Athletics and the women’s basketball program.

“She has enjoyed unprecedented success and has graduated all of her players. You won’t find a more quality person anywhere. The Wichita community will fall in love with her, just like El Paso has. She is a great coach and a great friend and we wish her the best.”