Former coach Sanderford hired as fundraiser

Joanie Baker

Western’s most successful women’s basketball coach is returning to its athletic department, only this time without a whistle.

Former head coach Paul Sanderford will be joining Athletic Director Wood Selig as his assistant. Sanderford, who led the Lady Toppers to the NCAA tournament finals in 1992, as well as the Final Four in 1985 and 1986, will now help the athletic department part-time with fund raising.

To raise money for Western athletics, Sanderford will be selling radio and television packages and working with annual giving, individual program enhancement, fund assistance and capital gift fund raising for athletic facility projects.

“Paul is a people-person who will develop relationships with key corporations throughout the state,” Selig said. “He will attract former ticket holders as well as new ticket holders and will move the program forward for students.”

While coaching at Nebraska from 1997-2002, he increased season ticket sales from 225 to 2,500. At Western, Lady Topper attendance was in the top 10 in the nation six different times.

Sanderford believes his prior involvement at Western has given him the advantage for this position because of his contacts.

“The fact that I know a lot of people in the state of Kentucky as well as many boosters will help open sure doors for us,” Sanderford said.

In addition to impressive ticket sales, Sanderford’s coaching history also includes a long list of achievements. In his 15 seasons at Western (1982-97), Sanderford achieved a .750 winning percentage, including five Sun Belt conference regular-season championships and seven SBC tournament titles.

With so many accomplishments, Sanderford said he will greatly miss coaching. However, he is looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities from a different perspective of the athletic department.

“I had a great 30 years, and I’m excited about this new form of athletic competition,” Sanderford said. “I’ll miss the kids, but not the travel and day-to-day job.”

Selig sees the loss of the coach to the sport as a gain to Western’s athletic administration.

“Anyone who knows Paul knows he’s 100 percent all the time,” Selig said. “He might be part-time by definition, but he will spend quite a bit of time with the coaching staff, and his experience will provide a sounding board, especially for the coaches new to the program.”

Sanderford said he is not only glad to be back working with the program, but he is also glad to be home.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity. It’s all been kind of like a walk down memory lane,” Sanderford said. “It just really feels like home here.”

Reach Joanie Baker at [email protected]