By BEN JOHNSON
Randy Gipson and Matt Cole have been a constant at Northeastern State since 2003. The tandem is no more.
On Monday, East Central University announced that Matt Cole would become just the fourth women’s head coach in the program’s history.
“To come to East Central as just the fourth head coach in the history of the program is an honor,” Cole said in a release from East Central. “I look forward to the challenges ahead and plan to continue the strong tradition of the ECU women’s basketball program.”
Cole fills the void left by Emily Holombek, who was named as the interim coach on Oct. 30 prior to the start of the 2013-2014 season. East Central went 19-9 overall and 13-7 in the Great American Conference. The Lady Tigers lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament to Southwestern Oklahoma State.
“There is a strong tradition of success within the ECU women’s basketball program. Our search focused on candidates who embodied excellence, recognized the ability to build upon the program’s momentum and had the experience to lead this program to the NCAA tournament,” said Jeff Williams, East Central’s director of athletics. “Matt Cole rose to the top of a list of highly qualified coaches. Not only has he been successful on the court, but his teams have excelled academically with a 100 percent graduation rate at NSU. Matt Cole will be an inspiring coach and educator and we are proud to welcome him to the Tiger family.”
One family’s gain is another one’s loss. Now Randy Gipson — who is now NSU’s longest-tenured coach — will be on the market for a new assistant coach.
“He’s been a totally loyal assistant coach. He has been involved in all aspects of our program here over these past 11 years, and the success that we’ve had over this time reflects well on the work he has done,” Gipson said in a release from NSU. “He is going to be missed, but we’re really excited about him getting this opportunity. East Central is an outstanding regional university, and they have a good basketball tradition. It’s a job that is a really great first heading coaching opportunity for him. I think he is going to be very successful there. I’m confident that he has the background now to go and meet the challenges that he will face in that new position.”
Cole — who coached the NSU forwards — was a part of six NSU teams that made NCAA tournament appearances. During Cole’s time on the coaching staff, NSU went 219-106.
“If it wasn’t for the players that we had at NSU and for Randy Gipson, I wouldn’t have been in a position to apply for this job,” Cole said. “The time I spent at NSU was special. I received my degree from there and I met my wife there. Northeastern State will always have a warm place in my heart and I’m looking forward to continuing those relationships. I want to thank everyone that’s ever supported me, my family and our program.”
Prior to his stint at Northeastern State, Cole was an assistant coach for Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kan., from 2000-03. Cole’s teams combined to post an 81-14 mark.