As the years have gone by on the Hill, the faces at the helm of WKU’s athletic programs have seldom stayed the same.
Travis Hudson and Jason Neidell — the head coaches of the WKU volleyball and women’s soccer teams, respectively — are outliers in the Division I coaching ranks.
Hudson has built the Lady Topper volleyball program into a perennial contender on the national stage since he took over in 1995, while Neidell has been the strategist behind over 200 WKU victories on the pitch since the university established its women’s soccer program in 2001.
While Hudson and Neidell have continued to reap what they’ve sown over the years at WKU, other head coaches on the Hill have come and gone. Some coaches have been lured away by other universities after showing promise at WKU. Others have resigned or been fired.
Years later, former Hilltopper and Lady Topper head coaches have landed all over the country and taken on all sorts of different roles. Here are updates on what many ex-WKU coaches have been up to since their respective tenures in Bowling Green came to an end.
Then: WKU football head coach (2003–2009)
Now: Ball State football defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach (2017-present)
Notes: Has coached in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision and Kentucky High School Athletic Association since being fired from WKU on Nov. 9, 2009.
Then: WKU football head coach (2010–2012)
Then: WKU football head coach (2013)
Notes: Left WKU after one season for a second tenure at Louisville, where he improved his record as head coach of the Cardinals to 77-35 before being fired on Nov. 11, 2018.
Then: WKU football head coach (2014–2016)
Now: Purdue football head coach (2017–present)
Notes: Departed WKU for Purdue and has posted a 17–19 record. He’s scheduled to make $6.6 million in total pay this year — eighth among FBS head coaches.
Mike Sanford Jr.
Now: Utah State football offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2019–present)
Notes: “One of college football’s brightest offensive minds,” according to his Aggies bio page, but WKU was ranked 118th in points and 103rd in total offense per game in 2018.
Then: WKU men’s basketball head coach (1999–2003)
Now: Fordham men’s basketball assistant coach (2019–present)
Notes: Left WKU for Georgia, where he compiled an 84-91 record. Fired by Cleveland State on July 12 after posting a combined 22-44 record during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons there.
Then: WKU men’s basketball head coach (2009–2012)
Notes: Spent the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach at Tulsa.
Then: WKU men’s basketball head coach (2012–2016)
Now: Jacksonville State men’s basketball head coach (2016–present)
Notes: Mentioned in a lawsuit alongside former WKU and JSU men’s basketball player Marlon Hunter on Oct. 11. Alleges Hunter was expelled from WKU over “sexual misconduct,” and that JSU covered up a sexual assault committed by Hunter. Neither of them have been charged with a crime relating to these allegations, and Harper and Hunter aren’t defendants in the lawsuit.
Mary Taylor Cowles
Then: WKU women’s basketball head coach (2003–2012)
Now: Cincinnati women’s basketball head coach (2018–present)
Notes: Left WKU for Cincinnati, posting a 24-11 record in her first season with the Bearcats.
Then: WKU baseball head coach (1980–2005)
Now: Scout for the Los Angeles Angels (2006–present)
Then: WKU baseball head coach (2006–2011)
Now: Old Dominion baseball head coach (2012–present)
Notes: Departed WKU for ODU and has produced 14 MLB Draft selections, three All-Americans, six Freshman All-Americans, 19 all-conference selections and a 231-216 overall record there.
Notes: Led Bowling Green High School to a 45-25 record as head coach in 2017 and 2018.
Then: WKU softball head coach (2005–2007)
Now: Kentucky softball head coach (2008–current)
Notes: Left WKU and became the winningest head coach in program history at UK. She’s led the Wildcats to their first-ever appearance in the Women’s College World Series, numerous appearances in the NCAA Super Regionals and a program-best 50 wins in 2014.
Then: WKU softball head coach (2008–2013)
Now: Illinois softball head coach (2016–present)
Notes: Departed WKU for Ball State, where the Cardinals posted a combined 67 wins in two seasons. Hired by the Fighting Illini in June 2015 and has posted a 145-86 overall record.
Then: WKU swimming head coach (2005–2015)
Notes: Position was eliminated by the university after the WKU men's and women's swimming and diving program was suspended for five years on April 14, 2015. The Bowling Green Police Department and WKU's Title IX Office investigated hazing, sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations surrounding the program, and a Title IX report obtained through an open records request found that Marchionda knew about the violations since spring 2012.