Mary Taylor Cowles has been fired as Western Kentucky women’s basketball coach, the school confirmed today.
WKU athletic director Ross Bjork announced in a press release that Cowles has been relieved of her duties after 10 seasons at the helm of the Lady Toppers.
“I informed Mary Taylor Cowles this morning that she was no longer going to serve as our women’s basketball head coach,” Bjork said in the release. “We want to thank Coach Cowles for her efforts during the 10 years she served as our head coach and the 21 years she has been associated with Lady Topper basketball. We all appreciate the dedication, time and sacrifices she and her family have given to WKU, and we wish them well.
“Moving forward, we must restore confidence, public support and the energy back to our basketball program. Everyone associated with Lady Topper basketball understands the expectations are to compete for and win championships and our program has much to offer to the game of women’s basketball.
“The process of identifying and hiring the best person to serve as our next head basketball coach will begin immediately. We seek leadership that will enable us to recruit and motivate our student-athletes and help them develop personally and compete for championships each and every night. Our historic and proud program deserves nothing less.”
WKU will host a news conference at 5 p.m. today, when Bjork will formally announce the decision.
Cowles finished with a 199-119 record in 10 seasons as head coach at WKU.
The program, which has seven freshmen and will have no seniors next season, set a new record this year for most losses in a season with 21.
The Lady Toppers also finished without a winning record at E.A. Diddle Arena for the first time in 32 seasons. Their nine wins were the fewest since the 1979-80 campaign, and they recorded back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1974-75.
Cowles led WKU to two Sun Belt Conference Tournament championships and seven postseason appearances during her tenure, including two NCAA tournament appearances. The Lady Toppers lost in the first round of both NCAA berths.
Fifty-two percent of Cowles’ losses have come in the last four seasons, and 31.9 percent have come in the last two.
Attendance at Diddle Arena has also dropped every season since 2007-08. The Lady Toppers averaged 1,152 fans over 14 home games this year, which ranked fifth in the Sun Belt.
That number represents a 42 percent decrease from 2008-09, when WKU averaged 1,992 fans.
The Lady Toppers had no home crowds of less than 1,000 in 2008-09 or 2009-10, but have had 15 games with less than 950 in the last two seasons.