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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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New U of M coach Alex Simmons ready to roll with ‘these 901 Women’

Terry Davis

Alex Simmons knows the value of a “basketball city” in building a successful women’s basketball program at a university invested in the growth of that program.

Simmons, who coached five seasons at Gardner-Webb, is the new coach of the University of Memphis women’s basketball team, which is coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent memory.

“When I stepped foot on the University of Memphis campus, I felt the belief and saw the vision that the leadership sees for our women’s basketball program,” said Simmons, who coached Gardner-Webb to a 90-59 record, including a 29-5 mark this past season.

“I appreciate the belief and investment that the university leadership, Laird Veatch and Lauren Ashman, have put into this program. I am elated to be back home in the state where I grew up to represent the Memphis Tiger women’s basketball team.”

The Tigers this past season advanced to the third round of NIT under former head coach Katrina Merriweather, who left after two seasons to coach the Cincinnati Bearcats, where she has deep roots.

University of Memphis Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Laird Veatch said Simmons’ “historic success, both as a player and coach, as well as her strong ties to the state of Tennessee and within the basketball community made her the obvious choice for us in continuing to grow the Memphis women’s basketball program.”

Simmons took over Gardner-Webb’s Runnin’ Bulldogs program in April 2018 after assistant coaching stints at Ole Miss (2013-18) and Middle Tennessee State University (2010-13). She also served as a graduate assistant coach at Kansas (2009-10).

Named to the WBCA Thirty Under 30 list in 2017 and, as director of recruiting, Simmons reeled in three-consecutive top-20 classes for Ole Miss. She also mentored a pair of All-SEC performers.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs broke multiple program, school and Big South records with their 29 victories and a 21-game win streak that included a perfect 18-0 record in conference play. GWU captured the regular season and championship titles for the program’s first trip to the Big Dance since the 2010-11 season.

“My time at Gardner-Webb has been everything I could have dreamed of – from winning at Florida in my first game as a head coach to building this program into a Championship program,” said Simmons.

“We had plenty of firsts in my five seasons and I am forever grateful to every single player who laid the foundation. They have definitely made me a better coach and I cannot wait to continue to support them and see them reach their goals on and off the court.”

With Gardner-Webb in her rearview, Simmons said, “I’m looking forward to getting to work with this administration and getting on the court with these 901 Women. Go Tigers!”


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