Three weeks after winning the Division II women’s basketball National Championship, Brandon Schneider is out as Emporia State’s head basketball coach. Schneider accepted a job offer of the same position at Stephen F. Austin State University, a Division I school in Nacogdoches, Tex., on April 15.
“I came down (to Nacodoches) last week on a Tuesday,” Schneider said. “I was on campus all day Wednesday, and then I got a phone call Thursday early evening and was offered the position. I took a couple hours to visit with my wife and ended up accepting the position later on that evening.”
Schneider left Emporia State with over 40 percent of the Lady Hornets’ total victories. He compiled a 306-72 record throughout his 12 seasons as the team’s head coach.
Schneider met with the team last Friday to let them know of his decision to leave Emporia State.
“We had a meeting on Friday afternoon, and he just let us know,” said freshman guard Rachel Hanf. “He didn’t say a whole lot, which I didn’t blame him. It was an emotional time for all of us. He kind of just laid it out that and said it was the best decision for him and his family.”
Assistant coach Jory Collins was present for the meeting.
“It went as good as to be expected – obviously they were disappointed,” Collins said. “(Schneider) just made them aware that it was a decision for his family and had nothing to do with them or here or anything like that; it was just the best decision for him.”
According to Schneider, the team meeting was a hard pill to swallow.
“That was really tough,” Schneider said. “That was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done – it was a really tough decision (because) I care a lot about not only those players but anyone that’s ever played for us. It was just a tough situation.”
Emporia State, under Schneider’s direction, went to the NCAA Tournament 11 out of the 12 seasons he was head coach. Collins felt the program built by Schneider serves as an example to other institutions.
“He’s the model for how to run a program in the right way as far as doing all the things the fans want to see, which is winning basketball games, but also what administration wants to see as far as graduating players and being available to the community,” Collins said.
One of the most important factors that led to Schneider’s departure was that the basketball program was in good shape before he left it.
“I would not have left it wasn’t that case,” Schneider said. “We just felt like this was the perfect time with everybody that was returning to Emporia State as well as the recruiting class that was put together. We felt like, if we were going to make a move, that this was the perfect time to do it with the program being in as good a shape as it ever has been.”
Of course, if Stephen F. Austin wasn’t the right place for him, Schneider wouldn’t have accepted the job.
“Obviously SFA was a very attractive position,” Schneider said. “They have a lot of history and a lot of tradition and it’s a community very similar to that of Emporia that really wants a women’s basketball program.”
While the disappointment over the loss of an Emporia State coaching legend is apparent, the players themselves still wish Schneider the best in his future endeavors.
“I’m disappointed,” Hanf said. “I was really looking forward to having him as my coach, but he made the right decision. It was a great opportunity for him, and I wish him the best.”