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Monday, March 19, 2007 | Women's Basketball
DICECCO RESIGNS AS UNI?S WOMEN?S BASKETBALL COACH
Cedar Falls, Iowa After 12 years at the helm of the University of Northern Iowa women’s basketball program, and 36 years overall on the bench, UNI’s Tony DiCecco has announced his resignation from coaching the Panthers.
DiCecco will continue to work at UNI as an assistant to the director of athletics. His responsibilities will include enhancing revenue that comes into the athletic department via special projects, boosting membership in the Panther Scholarship Club, and helping increase attendance at UNI women’s sporting events.
“It is difficult for me to express to you in words how appreciative I am toward the University of Northern Iowa, the athletics department, the assistant coaches and most of all the players I have had the chance to work with during the last 12 years,” DiCecco said. “I truly have been blessed to be a part of something so special, and am thankful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the UNI women’s basketball success story. My dad used to always tell me, in life you can only ask for one thing, and that was a chance. I thank UNI for that chance.
“This truly has been one of the best families I have been a part of in my coaching career. Having the opportunity to be a part of the growth of this program is something I will never forget. Now with all the pieces in place, especially the addition of the McLeod Center, this program can take the next step in its progression.”
UNI director of athletics Rick Hartzell will begin an immediate national search for DiCecco’s replacement, with the hope of having the position filled by mid-April or earlier.
“Tony has done a tremendous job over the last 12 years in bringing UNI women’s basketball to a position of national notoriety and respect,” Hartzell said. “The job he has done here has been amazing, and we look forward to working with him in his new role. Now it is my goal to find the next outstanding women’s basketball coach who can continue to grow this program both in competitiveness and quality, and to build on the legacy of success that Tony has established.”
Hartzell also announced that UNI’s three current assistant women’s basketball coaches Brad Nelson, Allison Pohlman, and Kelley Jacobs each will have the opportunity to apply for the head coaching position.
DiCecco leaves as the winningest coach in UNI’s history. In his 12 years, he led the Panthers to a 183-161 record and took the Panthers to its only three Division I postseason appearances, earning WNIT bids in 2001, 2003 and 2006.
He was responsible for a complete turnaround for Panther women’s basketball. In 1995, DiCecco took over a program that had not had a winning record in 14 years, and has built it up to finish better than .500 in eight of the last 10 seasons. In eight of the last nine years, UNI has finished in the top half of the Missouri Valley Conference standings, including a second-place finish in 2004-05. That season, UNI finished with 20 wins, the most in program history, and DiCecco was selected as Rawlings MVC Coach of the Year.
The Panthers added three wins to their previous year’s total in each of DiCecco’s first four seasons, going from 4-22 the year before his arrival to 19-8 in 1998-99.
DiCecco takes with him the longest current and fourth-longest all-time coaching tenure among Valley coaches. His 183 wins ranks seventh most in MVC history, and 117 conference wins are the fourth most ever by a Valley coach.
During his time at UNI, DiCecco has had 19 student-athletes named to all-MVC teams, including 14 first-team selections. Four of DiCecco’s former players were selected to the MVC all-centennial team, which honored the top 35 players in conference history.
The Panthers have also had success in the classroom under DiCecco. UNI has produced 29 academic all-conference performers in DiCecco’s 12 seasons. The Panthers have been named to the WBCA Academic Honor Roll in three of the last four seasons under DiCecco.
In his final season with the Panthers, DiCecco led UNI to a 17-13 overall mark and an 11-7 league record. The season included an 83-62 win at Iowa where the Panthers set a school record with 14 threes. UNI swept both Creighton and Drake, marking the first time in team history that the Panthers swept both opponents in the same season. The Panthers also hosted No. 1 Maryland, the first time the team has played the nation’s top-ranked team.
Before joining the Panthers, DiCecco served as an assistant at Creighton for six seasons. In that time, the Bluejays won two regular-season Western Athletic Conference titles and earned two bids to the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to joining the college coaching ranks, DiCecco spent 16 years as the head girls’ basketball coach at Montezuma High School in Montezuma, Iowa. He compiled a 306-69 record, including eight conference, 10 sectional and two regional championships. His teams made two Iowa state tournament appearances. He served as an assistant coach at West Central High in Maynard, Iowa for two seasons before taking over at Montezuma.
The 57-year-old DiCecco, a native of Niagara Falls, N.Y., resides in Cedar Falls with his wife of 37 years, Kristi.
2006-07 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL