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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bonvicini fired after 17th year

    Bonvicini fired after 17th year

    In Tucson’s edition of “”Survivor,”” yet another member of the Arizona women’s basketball program was voted off the island.

    Its most recent castaway, though, is not just another suspended player or resigned assistant coach, but rather the program’s top boss who couldn’t escape the desert’s heat.

    Joan Bonvicini will not finish her final year under contract as the Arizona women’s basketball head coach, Arizona athletics director Jim Livengood announced last Monday.

    The decision came after the 17-year head coach recorded a dismal 19-63 (11-43 Pacific 10 Conference) over the past three seasons amidst an array of injuries and off-court turmoil.

    Arizona’s mass exodus peaked when
    Bonvicini suspended senior team leader Ashley Whisonant and starting forward Rheya Neabors for the Wildcats’ Pac-10 Conference tournament opening game – a 46-31 loss to Oregon State which set the school record for lowest total points. The loss gave Arizona an overall record of 10-20 and an eighth place 4-14 conference record.

    Bonvicini’s tournament suspensions merely followed Arizona’s 2007-2008 shoreline, where a season-long battle for survival took a significant toll on the program. One transfer (Erin O’Bryan), one season-long suspension (Rhaya Neabors) and two season-long injuries (Suzy Bofia, Jessica Arnold) all led up to the resignation of Bonvicini’s top assistant Kellee Barney on March 12.

    “”This is much less about our past and much more about our future,”” said Livengood in a press release. “”We’ll begin a national search for Joan’s successor immediately.””

    Livengood hopes to potentially hire a coach by the championship game of this year’s women’s Final Four, scheduled for April 4, he said.

    Livengood will not try to set a timetable on the search; rather, he believes in searching while both men’s and women’s college basketball is in the national spotlight.

    “”I’m not talking about trying to be quick, but to make sure we use this time in great fashion, when both men’s and women’s basketball is at its highest peak,”” Livengood said.

    Bonvicini held the second-longest coaching tenure in the Pac-10 at 17 years, sitting right behind Stanford’s 22-year head coach Tara VanDeveer. With Bonvicini’s departure, only three Pac-10 teams have head coaches of at least five years – Stanford’s VanDerveer, Charli Turner Thorne of ASU and Bev Smith of Oregon.

    Before Livengood terminated Bonvicini’s $139,000-per-year contract, the lowest in the Pac-10, she compiled a 287-223 record at Arizona, making her the winningest coach in program history and pushing her overall 29-year career total to 612-294.

    “”I have had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,”” Bonvicini said in a press release, “”but I also feel I have worked with wonderful people during my years here.””

    Still surviving

    After Bonvicini’s top assistant Kellee Barney resigned March 12, only two assistants remain on the Arizona coaching staff:

    ? Assistant coach Jonelle Streed: Joined the staff two years ago after serving as the program’s graduate assistant video coordinator. Streed is responsible for perimeter player development, recruiting, scouting and floor work.

    ? Assistant coach Bernard Scott: Joined the staff last year aiding in player development and specializing in back court players.

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