Cowles offered six-year extension

Michael Casagrande

Starting her career with back-to-back 20-win seasons was enough to make Mary Taylor Cowles one of the hottest young coaches in women’s basketball.

That’s why Athletic Director Wood Selig opted to extend Cowles’ contract to keep her on the Hill for six more seasons.

Although no schools have contacted Western to interview Cowles for a job opening, Selig said the move was needed.

“It was an appropriate action to take after her first two seasons,” Selig said. “She’s running a model program and is a rising star.”

The contract still requires the approval of the Board of Regents, which meets later this month.

The specific details of the contract would not be released until the Board of Regents meeting, Selig said.

“Personally, this is a huge boost of confidence coming from our administration,” Cowles said in a press release. “For our program, this shows a huge commitment. It shows the direction our administration wants us to be headed. It adds to what we all know, which is how bright the future of women’s basketball is at Western Kentucky.”

Cowles signed her original contract in March of 2002 and it was to expire in 2006. The extended contract will last until 2010.

Cowles’ roots run deep at Western, as she was a standout as a player from 1988-1991. A member of the 1,000 point club, Cowles tallied 1,072 points and was named Western Female Athlete of the Year her senior season.

From 1995-2001, Cowles served as an assistant coach at Western under coaches Paul Sanderford and Steve Small.

During Cowles’ two seasons of direction, Western competed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship game both years, and won the title in 2003.

Sophomore forward Crystal Gardner said Cowles could be one of the great coaches in the history of the storied program.

“She has the intelligence about the game and she loves Lady Topper basketball,” Gardner said. “She lives and breathes Lady Topper basketball and I definitely think that she is a great asset to the program.”

Cowles replaced Shawn Campbell, who resigned under fire before the end of his first season in 2001-2002.

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected].