Terry Nooner envisions cutting down nets, winning titles as next women’s head basketball coach


Madeline Bell

New head women’s basketball coach Terry Nooner holds up his new jersey given to him by university president Rick Muma and athletic director Kevin Saal at the press conference in Charles Koch Arena on April 20.

Tears were rolling down Terry Nooner’s cheek as he began speaking about his family and the opportunity to become the new women’s head basketball coach.

He and his wife Tracy were both working as teachers in the Kansas City area when Nooner was hired as a college coach for the first time at Southern Illinois in 2011.

“I got offered the job late and I had to just leave her (in Kansas City),” Nooner said. “It was because of her support and believing in me to help pursue my dream of being a coach in college.”

Nooner was officially introduced as the program’s tenth head coach on April 20 at a press conference held in Charles Koch Arena.

According to Kevin Saal, Wichita State Director of Athletics, when Nooner spoke to his team at the University of Kansas for the last time, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

“I think that’s a really important message for us all to understand,” Saal said. “His connection to his young people is real, it’s authentic, it’s genuine and certainly something that we will cherish here.”

Nooner sees himself as a player oriented coach that’s willing to work hard and push his players to the next level.

“I’m always going to be open and honest with my players that play for me,” Nooner said. “Even if it’s something that they may not want to hear at the time, I think they will respect me as a person and respect me as a coach.”

Nooner went to four NCAA tournaments and won three Big 12 championships during his playing career at Kansas. He knows what it takes to win big.

“Before you can achieve and do great things, you got to have a vision of what you want to achieve,” Nooner said. “When I walked into the gym today, I see the stands full, I see the student section going crazy and screaming at the opposing team. I see these young ladies climbing ladders and cutting down nets and winning championships.”

When looking for a head coach for the women’s basketball team, Saal said that he and his team were looking for someone who reflects the athletic department’s values and centered relationships in their coaching style.

“With the help of our student athletes, we developed a profile, a lens through which we wanted to evaluate candidates and select the best leader for our program,” Saal said. “We wanted somebody that would display a commitment to pouring into young women.”

Saal also wanted someone who was familiar with the region. Nooner is a Raytown, Missouri, native, a suburb of Kansas City. He played basketball for four years at Kansas under Roy Williams.

After his senior season at Kansas, Williams and Nooner were talking about his future and Williams asked him what he thought about coaching.

“He’s the biggest influence in my coaching philosophy,” Nooner said. “I felt like he saw coaching in me before I saw it in myself.”

At the time though, Nooner made a light joke about the stress he and his teammates put on Williams during his time there.

“The first thing I told him was ‘Coach, when I came here, your hair was black and four years later, your whole head is white’,” Nooner said.

Nooner believes that his regional roots have grown into a beneficial tree of contacts with both college and high school coaches throughout the region and across the rest of the country.

“I feel good that we will assemble a great staff here that’s gonna follow the mood with recruiting regionally,” Nooner said. “Make sure we keep the best kids home.”

Saal said that the rest of Nooner’s staff should be announced early next week.