Just a few weeks after replacing one head basketball coach, University of Georgia Athletic Director Josh Brooks is suddenly tasked with finding a replacement for another.
In news that quickly developed overnight, Lady Bulldogs head coach Joni Taylor, Georgia’s coach for the past seven seasons, has left the Lady Dawgs program to take the same position at Texas A&M.
In seven seasons at Georgia, she was 140-75, advancing to the NCAA Tournament but never advancing past the second round.
Like new Georgia head basketball coach Mike White, Taylor had big shoes to fill from day one in replacing the program’s most successful coach in history. While White replaced Billy Donovan in Florida, Taylor replaced Hall of Fame coach Andy Landers, someone who if not for Pat Summitt would have at least one national title and likely the top coach in SEC women’s basketball from his era.
UGA released the following statement from Brooks this morning:
“Joni Taylor informed me she has accepted the head coaching position at Texas A&M. I want to personally thank Joni for being a great ambassador at the University of Georgia. From her Beyond Basketball group and involvement in many community organizations to her team’s successes on the court, her impact left a lasting impression on this program. We are forever grateful for the outstanding example of grace and humility she set for so many young women. I know these decisions are never easy, but we wish her, Darius, Jacie and Drew all the best on this new adventure.
“A national search for our next head coach is already underway. As we have said in the past, we are committed to competing for championships and postseason success in each of our 21 sports. I am confident we will find the best person to help us achieve that mission and build on the great tradition of Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball.”
Could the job now be attractive with the new coach not replacing Landers? Time will tell.
Sure, the program in Landers’ final years was not the top-five status as it was in the era of players like the Miller twins, Janet Harris, Katrina McLain, Teresa Edwards, and Saudia Roundtree. But there is no reason, even in the era of college basketball having more parity than before, for Georgia to not be a consistent top-ten program with all of the talent in the state of Georgia.
This job should attract strong candidates. As far as in-house prospects go, Chelsea Newton, on staff in Athens upon Taylor’s arrival, would be expected to get a strong look, assuming she does not go with Taylor to College Station.
It’s also noteworthy that Mercer head coach Susie Gardner, who just led her team to another NCAA berth, is a former Landers assistant and Lady Bulldog player.