Newman hires women’s basketball coach

04/19/2012 5:00 AM

04/20/2012 12:52 PM

Newman hired former New Mexico State and Barton Community College coach Darin Spence as its women’s basketball coach.

The school announced the hiring of Spence on Thursday afternoon.

Spence went 18-13 at Barton this season, his only year in Great Bend. He went 109-136 in eight years at New Mexico State.

“I know a lot of people at Newman, and the opportunity to coach there is very exciting for myself and for my family,” said Spence, who inherits just three players.

Spence replaces Jaime Green at Newman, after Green resigned earlier this month after two seasons to take an assistant coach position at Missouri Southern. Green led the Jets to their first NCAA Tournament berth and a Heartland Conference title this season, but her tenure was also marked by an infraction reported to the NCAA where Green asked a player to pay for two Division I transfers’ parking fines at their schools because, the player said, Green paying for the fines would be a violation of NCAA rules.

Green admitted to the violation and served a one-game suspension in December. The program also self-imposed a penalty of a loss of two book scholarships and a reduction to eight recruiting visits. The NCAA has yet to formally rule on the violations.

Two of Green’s players, Alex Adekunle and Kellindra Zackery, were arrested last December on drug charges – five counts each of unlawful cultivation or distribution of a controlled substance.

“Maybe there were some issues we’ve got to address,” Spence said. “We want to have a complete program, one that the community can relate to and people can identify with.

“Wherever I’ve been I’ve been a program builder or a program fixer or whatever you want to call it. I’m not afraid of that challenge.”

Spence has extensive ties to Kansas – he began his coaching career at Marymount College in Salina in 1987, then spent five seasons as the women’s coach at Butler Community College, two seasons as an assistant men’s coach at Cowley, two seasons as the men’s coach at Colby Community College and five seasons as the women’s coach at Cowley, where he won five Jayhawk East titles.

“Darin will be an absolute great fit for Newman University,” Newman athletic director Vic Trilli said in a statement. “He has had success at every level of college basketball, including eight years (at Division I). He brings an experience factor and big-time family values that will provide some stability to our program.”

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