RICHMOND, Ky. – Samantha Williams, who helped lead the University of Louisville to eight straight NCAA Tournament appearances, was chosen as the new Eastern Kentucky University women’s basketball head coach, Director of Athletics Stephen Lochmueller announced today.
EKU will introduce Williams at a reception for fans and media on Wednesday, April 3. The event will begin at 3:30 p.m. and be held in the EKU Center for the Arts.
Over the past eight seasons, Williams assisted the Cardinals in reaching the Final Four twice, including an appearance in the 2013 national championship game, making an Elite 8 appearance and advancing to the Sweet 16 three times. Since Williams joined the staff in 2011, Louisville has compiled a 234-53 record and six top-10 finishes in the national polls.
“Few coaches have experienced as much success as Samantha has during her career,” Lochmueller said. “She has been a key part in some of the most successful women’s basketball teams the sport has seen over the past 17 years. That experience will be instrumental in rebuilding the EKU women’s basketball program. Samantha is a winner. She refuses to settle for anything short of excellence. Once I spent some time talking with Samantha, it became clear to me she is the right person, at the right time, to lead our program. She will return Colonel basketball to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference.”
This season, UofL is 31-3, earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, won a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championship for the second straight season, is ranked fifth in the nation and will play in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to lead Eastern Kentucky University women’s basketball and humbled to be entrusted to lead the program forward,” Williams said. “I want to thank Stephen Lochmueller, Mark Howard and the rest of the EKU administration for their support and trust.”
Williams coached four WNBA Draft picks at Louisville. She helped locate and sign the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class in 2015, the No. 6 ranked class in 2016 and the fourth ranked class in 2017. Between 2014 and 2017, Williams and the Louisville staff signed nine McDonald’s All-Americans.
“This is a special opportunity, and I’m ready to lead the program back to a level of excellence,” said Williams. “I’m confident that the University and Richmond communities are going to love what they see from our student-athletes on and off the court. I’m excited to get started!”
From 2007 to 2011, Williams was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Duke. She helped the Blue Devils capture two ACC regular season championships, two ACC Tournament titles and make two appearances in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. Williams was instrumental in Duke compiling three top-five rated recruiting classes, including the top-ranked class in the nation in 2009-10. She worked primarily with the team’s perimeter players, developing a pair of All-Americans who were picked in the first two rounds of the WNBA Draft.
Williams spent the 2003-04 season as an assistant at Auburn before spending three seasons (2004-07) as an assistant and recruiting coordinator at DePaul. She helped the Tigers to a 22-9 record and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. That team featured four WNBA Draft picks. Williams was on staff at DePaul during a stretch that included three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and the program’s first NCAA Sweet 16 trip in 2006. She coached four WNBA selections.
Williams began her collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Butler during the 1998-99 season. In 2002-03 she served as an assistant coach at Columbus State University, helping the Cougars to a 28-4 record, a Peach Belt Conference regular season championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Louisville, Kentucky native earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University in 1996. Williams was a four-year starter with the Tigers and served as co-captain as a junior and a senior. She led Auburn to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including two Sweet 16 trips and an Elite 8 spot. Williams set the program record for career three-point field goals (161), and finished her career with 1,106 points, 495 rebounds and 323 assists.
While at Auburn, Williams played for the U.S. Junior National Team that won the bronze medal at the R. William Jones Cup in Taipei, Taiwan.
After her collegiate career, Williams played one season of professional basketball in the American Basketball League with the San Jose Lasers (1996-97).
Williams was a first-team Parade and Street and Smith All-American, in addition to a USA Today Super 25 honoree, while playing high school basketball at DuPont Manual High School in Louisville.
“On behalf of the entire university, I want to welcome ‘Sam’ to our EKUSports family,” Lochmueller said.
Fans can get a head start on the 2019-20 season by placing a non-refundable $40 deposit on season tickets that will be included in the overall price of the package. For questions or to place your deposit, call Alex Harrison at (859) 358-9272 or the EKUSports ticket office at 844-3-GOBIGE.
What They’re Saying About Samantha Williams
“I am thrilled that Sam is getting this well-deserved opportunity to become the head coach at Eastern Kentucky University. She has worked very hard at Louisville over the past eight years and is a big part of our success. Sam will take her knowledge and experience of being a member of two Final Four teams to EKU. I appreciate Sam’s loyalty to me, our team, and to the University of Louisville. It is now her turn and her time, to run her own program. I have no doubt she will be an immediate impact hire and you can trust that we will be cheering her on.”
Jeff Walz, head coach, University of Louisville
“I am absolutely thrilled about Samantha Williams being hired as the head coach at Eastern Kentucky University. Sam has been an outstanding student-athlete, a very loyal and hard-working assistant and experienced the very highest level of women’s basketball. She’s a person of integrity and someone who will do great things at EKU.”
Joanne P. McCallie, head coach, Duke University
“I’ve known Sam Williams since her playing days at Auburn. She worked our summer basketball camps for years. Sam has been an assistant coach on our staff helping DePaul reach the program’s first Sweet 16 in 2006. Sam Williams is a great teacher, an excellent recruiter and most important of all – a special human being. Eastern Kentucky has made one great hire.”
Doug Bruno, head coach, DePaul University