Bollant bring previous success to a program in need


Justin Brown

Women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant, second from right, Athletic Director Tom Michael and Bollant’s wife Kari and daughter Regan pose for a photo after Monday’s introduction of the new coach.

Mark Shanahan, Women’s Basketball Reporter

The new head coach of the Eastern women’s basketball team Matt Bollant brings proven success to a program that has not had a winning record since the 2012-13 season.

Bollant becomes the ninth head coach of the Panthers and he has been a winner in many of his 15 years of head coaching. He started his head-coaching career at Bryan College for five years, followed by five years at Green Bay and five years at the Illinois. He has an overall record of 343-149 and reached the postseason in 11 of his 15 years.

Much of Bollant’s success came during his five years at Green Bay where he reached the NCAA Tournament four times along with winning the Horizon League five years in a row. He won the Horizon League Coach of the Year four times and in 2015 at Illinois he won the Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award.

Along with his history of winning comes the success in the classroom from his student-athletes. Bollant has had his team among the top of the conference each year in team GPA and graduation rate.

“Every single player that I have coached has graduated and we will do that here as well,” Bollant said.

Bollant takes an active role to make sure his players are excelling in the classroom as well as the court. The active role he takes is by asking them about assignments that are coming up and gives them a date to do that assignment or else they will not be practicing.

Athletic Director Tom Michael took notice to the success in the classroom past teams under Bollant have had during the hiring process.

“His commitment to the academic side and what he has done in the past is something that is important to us,” Michael said. “We want all of our programs, all of our coaches and all of our student-athletes to excel in the classroom and that is what they are coming her ultimately is to use that degree. Certainly sport allows that to be a vehicle for them to be more successful when they leave Matt has demonstrated that everywhere he went.”

Junior Grace Lennox will be entering her senior year with a new coach and has played an active role to keep the team practicing during the month long coaching vacancy.

“We were playing at the gym six days a week and continuing to do individuals for 30-45 minutes three times a week. We had a graduate assistant from the men’s team bringing us along with that,” Lennox said.

Bollant acquires a young team that had just one senior on it last year and will begin practicing with his new team this week. Eastern had a record of 9-19 and 5-11 in conference last season.

Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].