Lincoln - National Coach of the Year Connie Yori earned a three-year contract extension and a raise after leading the Nebraska women's basketball program to the best season in school history in 2009-10, NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne announced on Friday, May 14.
Yori, who earned 2010 National Coach-of-the-Year honors from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, the Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, along with being named the Naismith Coach of the Year and the winner of the inaugural Kay Yow Award, will receive an annual base salary of $660,000 beginning in 2010-11. Her contract, which was set to expire in June of 2012, has been extended to 2015.
"Connie has been steadily building our women's basketball program at Nebraska over the past eight seasons, and last year the team achieved at the highest levels of any team in our history," Osborne said. "She has not only consistently won basketball games and led our team to the postseason, but the young women in our program have done well academically and demonstrated high character."
In 2009-10, Yori captured Big 12 Coach-of-the-Year honors after leading Nebraska to a 32-2 record that included a perfect 16-0 conference mark and the school's first Big 12 regular-season crown. Yori's Huskers became the first Big 12 men's or women's basketball team to complete an unbeaten regular season (29-0), while also tying the Big 12 record with a 30-game overall winning streak.
Nebraska achieved the highest national rankings in school history (No. 3 AP/Coaches) and earned the program's first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers also advanced to the first NCAA Sweet 16 in program history.
"I am extremely appreciative of the commitment Coach Osborne, Marc Boehm and our entire administration have shown to our entire program," Yori said. "Winning in the Big 12 Conference brings great challenges every night, but we have proven that we can succeed. Hopefully we can build on that success over the next few years."
Senior forward Kelsey Griffin earned first-team All-America honors and was named the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year. The national player-of-the-year candidate on the court also received Nebraska's first-ever Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for her performance on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
A three-time first-team academic All-Big 12 selection, Griffin was part of NU's growing success in the classroom under Yori. Nebraska led the Big 12 with six first-team academic All-Big 12 picks in 2009-10, including three-time selections Kala Kuhlmann and Cory Montgomery. Fellow seniors Nicole Neals and Nikki Bober were also first-team academic picks in 2009-10. The Huskers were also just one of 19 teams in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field to post a perfect 100 percent in the Graduation Success Rate, and were recently recognized by the NCAA's Academic Performance Program for their exceptional achievement.
Yori's Huskers also have been leaders in the community, capturing Nebraska's inaugural Life Skills Team Award in 2003-04, before becoming the first NU team to capture the award on two occasions by claiming the title again in 2005-06.
In addition to success at Nebraska, Yori's players have advanced to professional careers. Following the 2009-10 season, Griffin was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the WNBA Draft, while Montgomery was chosen with the No. 25 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. In 2007, Kiera Hardy earned a third-round pick by the Connecticut Sun, and Danielle Page followed in 2008 by earning a roster spot for the entire season after joining the Sun as a free agent.
Hardy and Page, along with former Huskers Chelsea Aubry, Elena Diaz and Jelena Spiric have also achieved professional careers overseas following their playing days at Nebraska.
In eight seasons with Yori as Nebraska's head coach, the Huskers have captured eight first-team All-Big 12 awards, including three in 2009-10. NU players had only earned three first-team All-Big 12 awards in the first six years of the league from 1996-97 to 2001-02. Before Yori's arrival, Huskers had earned first-team all-conference awards only 12 times in 19 years.
Over the past seven seasons, Yori has guided Nebraska to its most successful stretch in history by claiming a school-record seven consecutive postseason tournament appearances, including three NCAA Tournament trips in the past four years. In 2008, NU advanced to the NCAA second round for just the third time in history.
Since her second season in 2003-04, Nebraska has averaged nearly 21 victories per season, including an average of more than nine Big 12 Conference victories per year. Over the past five seasons, Nebraska also owns the best record (36-14) of any Big 12 North Division team against the five other North Division schools. The Huskers have also had success against the Big 12 South, becoming just the third North Division team in history to go 6-0 against the South in 2009-10.
Yori has led the Huskers to 20 victories over top-25 opponents over the past eight seasons, including eight wins against ranked foes in 2009-10. Twelve of those 20 victories have come against top-15 foes, including five wins over top-10 opponents, surpassing Nebraska's total in the 28 seasons before Yori's arrival in Lincoln.
Nebraska became one of the hottest tickets in women's college basketball in 2009-10. The Huskers ranked seventh nationally with an average home attendance of 7,390 fans per game, including a Big 12-leading 11,383 fans per conference contest. The Huskers drew more than 10,000 fans for each of their last seven home games at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, including the first capacity crowd in history with 13,595 fans on hand for a Feb. 27 win over Missouri.
The Huskers' 2009-10 success has already translated into increased season ticket sales in 2010-11, as more than 1,000 new season tickets were sold in the month of March alone.