On Thursday morning, Missouri ushered in a new era in women's basketball. Mike Alden introduced Robin Pingeton as the Tigers' new head coach.
Pingeton comes to Missouri from Illinois State, where she compiled a 144-81 record over the last seven seasons. In that time, Pingeton took the Redbirds to two NCAA Tournaments and three WNIT appearances. This year's team just finished a 28-8 season with a run to the semifinals of the WNIT.
"We wanted to find the top women's basketball coach in the country for the University of Missouri," Alden said.
Pingeton is no stranger to her new surroundings. Her aunt and uncle have lived in Columbia for 49 years. In addition, she spent three seasons in the Big 12 as an assistant on Bill Fennelly's staff at Iowa State, during which time the Lady Cyclones won 66 games, made two NCAA appearances and won the 2001 conference tournament.
"Robin is a great hire for Missouri," Fennelly said. "As an oppoosing coach, you know that you're going to be in for a battle. I have no doubts that Robin has the experience and the drive to bring Missouri women's basketball back into the national spotlight."
Pingeton graduated from St. Ambrose in 1990 as the program's all-tiome leading scorer and an all-American in both basketball and softball. She spent three seasons playing professionally in the Women's Basketball Association. After that, she took over as the coach at her alma mater, compiling a 195-76 record in eight seasons, including two appearances in the NAIA Elite Eight. She moved to Illinois State in 2003-04 and won the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year award in her first season.
"It had to be the right fit for me and my staff to leave Illinois State," Pingeton said. "It has been our dream to coach in a place that you can truly compete for a national championship."
There is no doubt the Big 12 is just that.
"Monster of a conference," Pingeton said. "There is no doubt about it, this is the best conference in the country."
The Big 12 sent two teams to the Women's Final Four this season. Missouri won just two league games and finished last in the conference on the way to a 12-18 record in Cindy Stein's final season.
"We know what we're getting into. We know how hard this is going to be," Pingeton said. "It will turn around and we will get it done."
Alden said details of Pingeton's contract are being finalized, but that it will be a five-year deal. The base salary will be around 300 thousand dollars with incentives maxing out the contract at approximately 600 thousand. Alden said "it is enhanced" from what Stein was making. According to her contract on MUTigers.com, Stein earned a base salary of 200 thousand dollars per year when the deal was last amended in 2006.
Pingeton met with the current Tiger players last night and will begin her job of recruiting immediately. She said she believed Missouri had two available scholarships for this season, but she was unsure if the staff would use them this year. Speaking of that staff, Pingeton brings all three of her assistants from Illinois State. The group was together for all seven seasons at ISU.
"This is a mirror of what we did at Illinois State on a much larger scale," Pingeton said. "We think this place is a gold mine."