Towson’s sports director Dr. Steven Eigenbrot said he’s received “dozens” of calls, text messages and emails in 24 hours since Temple announced it had lured Tigers women’s basketball coach Diane Richardson away to lead its program.
“My phone is definitely burning right now,” he said Wednesday morning. “There are a lot of people who are excited about the opportunity, and they should be.”
About an hour before, Owls introduced Richardson as their 20th head coach. Richardson, 63, replaces Tonya Cardoza, whose contract was not renewed after the 2021-22 season.
During his inaugural conference Wednesday morning, Richardson acknowledged the burden of following Cardoza, the school’s most winning coach of all time with a record of 251-188, and her predecessor Dawn Staley, who has since guided South Carolina to the NCAA Championships in 2017 and 2022.
“I have a way ahead of me,” Richardson said, “but I’m prepared.”
Richardson left a Towson program that played more postseason appearances during her five-year tenure (two) than it had in the previous 49 years (one). Richardson collected an 80-66 mark, led the 2021-22 squad to a single season record with 24 wins and guided the 2018-19 team to the school’s first NCAA Tournament spot.
Richardson also developed Kionna Jeter to become the first player in Tiger’s history to be selected in the WNBA draft when she was selected in the third round a year ago. Jeter was also the first player in the program’s history to receive three consecutive All-Colonial Athletic Association first team awards.
Eigenbrot said Temple athletic director Arthur Johnson informed him last Thursday that he and the school’s search committee were interested in interviewing Richardson for the vacant head coaching position. Richardson said Wednesday that the interest was mutual.
“Well, I have to tell you that I’ve seen this program for a long, long time, but you can not get anywhere unless they call you,” she said. “So when I got that call though, I was really elated and it was something that was a goal for me and [I] was just happy to get the call and happy to go through the process and happy to go through the committee and finally got it OK that I would be the next head coach of women’s basketball here in Temple. ”
Johnson said Richardson was “my favorite” for the job, adding that he admired her decision to walk away from a career in finance that included a position as vice president of national neighborhood lending at Bank of America to pursue basketball.
“Her career as a student-athlete, hearing part of her story and her journey, and then what she was able to do before she started playing basketball,” he said. “She went away from a very successful and lucrative career to do something she loved. So her love and compassion. And some of the things our student-athletes asked for after we made the decision was one that was caring. “One who would hold them accountable and one who loves people. Coach Rich suited all of these categories.”
Eigenbrot, who started his new role on March 28 after serving as vice president of athletics in South Carolina for 12 years, said he would like to start interviewing applicants as early as next week with a view to hiring the program’s 11th head coach before the end of the month.
“I think Diane left a really good template for what we could build from,” he said. “So [I am looking for] someone who connects with the players the way she did, and of course she did a great job of recruiting, and her offensive was dynamic. So I think that’s something we’ll definitely keep an eye on. If it’s not broken, do not repair it and she may have corrected our basketball program quite honestly. So I think we’m grateful for that. Would we love to have a sitting head coach? Of course. But in the end, I think other variables will probably be just as important. “
Eigenbrot acknowledged that a few players on the Tigers list could choose to enter the transfer portal to join Richardson in Temple.
“It’s definitely something to worry about,” he said. “I would love for the young ladies to stay and build on what we have done here. But I would not be shocked if a few of them were to follow Coach Rich there or end up elsewhere. We will try to handle our search. with great appropriateness, and as the new guy, I have to find out what that means and what it entails.I’m trying to close this period as soon as possible and get a new face in there with the opportunity to recruit the girls who is on the roster and see how many of the young ladies are willing to keep going and continue to build on what they have already done here. “
As much as he would have preferred Richardson to stay with Towson, Eigenbrot credited Richardson for making the school a coveted destination for coaches and players.
“Coach Rich did a fantastic job with the program during her tenure here, and it’s a much more attractive job than it was when she came here,” he said. “So I’ve had a lot of coaches and agents, and people contact me about their interest in the program.”