Rice women’s basketball is on the hunt for a new head coach. With Tina Langley moving on, where will the Owls turn next?
In a way, it came out of the blue. One Sunday afternoon, Rice women’s basketball was cutting down the nets at the WNIT. A little more than a week later Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard gathered with media on a zoom call to announce what he termed an “aggressive” search.
The search was made necessary the day prior when Washington announced the hiring of now-former Rice coach Tina Langley. After turning Rice into three-time Conference USA Champions with postseason championships in the CBI and WNIT, Langley had caught the eye of the Huskies. Now she’s headed to the Pac-12 and Rice has to start over, albeit not from scratch.
In a statement released shortly following Langley’s announcement, Karlgaard spoke to the structure Langley was leaving at South Main. “We have an incredible foundation in place for women’s basketball, including a winning program, top-notch student-athletes, strong university and alumni support, and a world-class institution,” Karlgaard said. “As we look for the next leader of our program, we are in a prime position to attract the very best coaches in college basketball to Rice University.”
Those close to the program always knew Langley was destined for bigger things. She was reportedly on the shortlist to be the successor at Duke last summer before the Blue Devils looked elsewhere. Langley and the Owls made the extra year count, ending a grueling 2021 season with a trophy. In many ways, she went out on top.
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Langley leaves Rice women’s basketball with the highest winning percentage in program history (.673). She went 126-61 in six seasons, winning 20 or more games in her final five campaigns. She coached WNBA draft selection Erica Ogwumike and reigning three-time C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, Nancy Mulkey.
With Langley headed West, Rice has work to do. Karglaard met with the team on Monday, shortly after Langley informed them of her departure. Now Karlgaard intends to gather further feedback from current players first then formally begin reaching out to candidates.
Karlgaard noted interest in the job “was pretty high right now” and the candidate pool would focus on coaches with “a depth of experience”, including former assistants (like Langley) and others that already had head coaching experience. Presumably, there would be more sitting head coaches interested this time around than when Langley was hired six years ago. Altogether he expects the search to last somewhere “between 10 and 20 days”, with the freedom to extend the search should it be necessary.
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