Eastern hires Matt Bollant as women’s basketball coach

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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The Eastern women’s basketball team’s vacant coaching position has been filled. Athletic Director Tom Michael announced the hiring of former Illinois coach Matt Bollant as the new coach of the women’s team.

The Panthers have been without a head coach for over a month after Debbie Black’s contract was not renewed.

Bollant spent the last five years at Illinois and had five wins over top 25 teams. Prior to his stint at Illinois, he spent five years at Green Bay where he put together a record of 148-19 including a 7-0 record against Big 10 teams.

He also led four Green Bay teams to NCAA Tournament appearances. He was named the Kay Yow Coach of the Year in 2011 after leading the Phoenix to the Sweet 16.

He was also an assistant to Indiana University helping the Hoosiers win the 2002 Big 10 Championship.

Michael said in a press conference that there was exceptional interest in the position from across the nation.

“Matt was a candidate that stood out among those resumes with his proven track record of building winning programs at our level. He sold the committee on his vision for returning to EIU women’s basketball back to the upper levels of the Ohio Valley Conference where it can contend for conference championships and post-season play,” Michael said.

Bollant comes into coach a team led by junior Grace Lennox with multiple other players returning. Erica Brown is graduating and Allison Van Dyke announced that she would be transferring.

“I am excited to be named Head Coach at Eastern Illinois,” Bollant said. “Tom Michael and Dr. Glassman have been outstanding in this process and i am so excited about bringing honor to them and this great university. My family and I are really looking forward to being part of the Charleston community. Great things are ahead.”

Bollant is the ninth coach in Eastern history.

The Panthers struggled the past two seasons with back-to-back losing records and missed out on back-to-back OVC tournaments.

When Eastern let go of Black, Michael said that Eastern needed a coach that could get them to the next level and make the tournament.

Lennox was recruited by Black based off Black’s connections to Australia where Lennox is from, but she is ready to play this season with a new coach.

“I am super excited with the hiring of coach Bollant,” Lennox said. “His coaching record clearly shows he is capable of turning programs around and bringing success into the picture.”

It’s Lennox’s final season and this is her last shot at a trip to an OVC tournament. She was a freshman on the last team to make it.

“Personally, I cannot wait to get into the gym with him and pick his brain each and every day. After meeting with him and his wife today, I have only positive feelings about his hiring. I am confident that he will bring great kids into our program that will be willing to work along with us and bring success to EIU.”

He will officially be announced Monday at 2 p.m.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]