Friday, July 24, 2009

LSC Roundup 7-24

UTPA taps Downing as next women's basketball coach
EDINBURG – The University of Texas-Pan American has chosen Denny Downing as its next women’s basketball coach.

Downing replaces DeAnn Craft who resigned May 15 after she said she did not feel she had the support of interim athletic director Ricky Vaughn.

Downing beat out two other finalists for the job – Stephen F. Austin assistant Taqueta Braxton and West Georgia University coach Craig Roden.

“I’ll say this, all three of our finalists were extremely qualified,” Vaughn said. “(Downing’s) experience as a head coach really stood out. … With such limited resources, he was able to take Commerce to the Elite Eight.”

Downing said he preferred not to talk about what may have transpired with the program in the past.

“I am just glad to have this opportunity,” he said.

Downing comes to UTPA after seven years at the helm of Division-II Texas A&M-Commerce. He also served as coach at Collin Community College from 2001-02 and as an assistant at Drake University (1994-96) and at Fort Hays State University (1993-94).

Downing helped turned around a once struggling Commerce program, leading the program this past year to its third straight winning for the first time in school history. He also led Commerce to the Division II Elite Eight in 2007.

Downing’s hiring continues a trend in UTPA opting for non-Division I coaches in its major coaching searches.

Ryan Marks, who was hired as the men’s coach in May, arrived from Division II St. Edwards and baseball coach Manny Mantrana came to UTPA via NAIA St. Thomas University in Miami.

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