When college teams and coaches are successful, coaches often receive offers from other schools, and sometimes the offer is too good to pass up. Southern Oregon University is learning this the hard way. Head women’s basketball coach Lynn Kennedy, who led the lady Raiders to their first NAIA tournament win since 1999, has decided to leave SOU and accept the same position at Division 1 program, Portland State.
Kennedy completes his 10-year tenure at SOU as the second-winningest (208 victories) in Raider women history.
Although their coach is changing, the Raider’s mindset will not. Junior All-Cascade Conference forward Carly Meister says, “There are going to be huge changes for us in the next year, including not having our own gym to play in. We want to pick up right where we left off at the end of the season and show everyone that even though we are getting a new coach, it’s not going to change our mentality.”
Coach Kennedy will undoubtedly be difficult to replace, but SOU Athletic Director Matt Sayre says, “We’re looking for someone who can recruit and someone who has a good amount of experience coaching women’s basketball at the collegiate level and can maintain an exciting brand of basketball for us.”
Meister says she and her teammates want to see a quality in the new coach that Kennedy possessed, “Coach Kennedy was a great person to talk to and would help us with anything. His office door was always open. So I think that’s a quality of his that may be hard to replace but we would love to see in the new coach.”
Prior to coaching at SOU, Kennedy was at New Mexico Highland University. The season before he arrived at SOU, the women won 4 games. By his third season, however, the team went 29-5 and won the Cascade Conference regular-season and tournament titles. In his remaining 8 seasons, 6 resulted in 20 wins.
Sayre adds, “Lynn was a fantastic recruiter; brought in talent and then ran a very exciting, high scoring brand of basketball that did very well and brought a lot of interest to the program.” The Portland State women went 4-25 last season, so PSU is hoping Kennedy can turnaround their program as he did at SOU.
Kennedy said of his time at SOU via the Raider Athletic page, “It has been an honor to be the head coach at SOU for the past 10 years … The SOU and Ashland community have been amazing … This could not have been possible without the tremendous student-athletes that I have had the privilege to coach. I am most proud of all the academic and professional accomplishments of our past and current players. From the first day, they have represented SOU with integrity and passion. The future is bright and I’m excited to see the continued growth and next step of the Raider women’s basketball program.”
Meister added that the lady Raider’s are motivated to overcome this obstacle, “At first it was a shock to all of us and it took a few days to sink in. But we were all on the same page and want to continue to work towards our goal … So we’ve been getting into the gym. I’d say it almost motivates us more.”
SOU athletic directors are currently sorting through applicants for the open position. They are hopeful for a first of May decision, and The Siskiyou will have an update at that time.