COLUMBIA — With Missouri women’s basketball coach Cindy Stein announcing her resignation last week, Missouri Director of Athletics Mike Alden has some work to do. Alden has to figure out who can turn the struggling program around, while also maintaining the off-the-court success Stein’s teams usually had.
It isn't clear what coaches Alden considers candidates for the position. Most teams are still playing, and Alden says he will not contact anyone until their season is finished. However, there are a number of coaches with ties to the state of Missouri and the Big 12 Conference that could fit what Alden is looking for.
Assistant athletic director Chad Moller said that Missouri has not interviewed anyone as of Wednesday afternoon. “There is no specific timeline,” Moller said by phone. “Most teams are still playing, so we are just observing and gathering information at this time.”
Here is a list of candidates Missouri may consider:
Jeff Mittie (TCU head coach): This one probably makes the most sense. The guy knows how to win. Mittie has been the head coach at Missouri Western, Arkansas State and Texas Christian University. He has been the TCU head coach for the past 11 seasons. In 18 seasons as a head coach at those schools, Mittie has gone 389-172 (.693), and he has led TCU to eight NCAA Tournament berths in the past nine seasons.
Mittie is a native of Blue Springs. When reached by phone, Mittie said he has not been contacted by Missouri and that he did not want to comment further until his season is over. Mittie played basketball at Missouri Western, where he was coached by current Columbia College men’s basketball coach Bob Burchard, who was an assistant at the time. If Mittie was hired, Missouri may have to pay more than the $200,000 base salary that Stein earns.
Melissa McFerrin (Memphis head coach): A native of Cassville, McFerrin played point guard for Missouri from 1979-83. As a player, she helped lead MU to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 1982. McFerrin had stints as an assistant coach in the WNBA from 1997-2000 with the New York Liberty and Washington Mystics. She was also the general manager for the Mystics from 2000-02.
McFerrin, who was the head coach at American University from 2004-08, is in her second season at Memphis, where she has jump-started the program. The year before she arrived, the Tigers went 10-20. This season, Memphis is 17-12. If Alden isn’t able to reel in Mittie, McFerrin might be the next best choice. Efforts to contact McFerrin were unsuccessful.
Nyla Milleson (Missouri State head coach): Milleson graduated from Kansas State in 1985 and has coached Missouri State the past three seasons. Ties to the Big 12 and the recruiting area makes her a possibility. After finishing 10-20 in her second season at Missouri State, the Bears are 20-9 this season. The 10-win improvement makes the Bears one of just nine Division I teams to do that this season. Efforts to contact Milleson were unsuccessful.
Steve Harold (Drury head coach): If Alden is looking for a coach that has been extremely successful at the Division II level, Harold may be the guy. Harold has compiled a record of 335-127 (.725) in 15 seasons at the D-II level. He is in his third season at Drury, which is in Springfield. The Panthers are 26-6 this season. When contacted by email, Harold said he would be interested if Missouri called him. “I have had tremendous success at the D-II level, but have always dreamed of and worked toward landing a D-I job,” Harold said.
Brandon Schneider (Emporia State head coach): Would Missouri dare hire another Emporia State coach? Probably not, but it makes for an interesting conversation. Stein, of course, coached at Emporia State for three seasons before coming to MU. In 12 seasons at Emporia State, Schneider has gone 300-72 (.806). That winning tradition might give him at least an interview.
Robin Pingeton (Illinois State head coach): Pingeton has Big 12 ties as an assistant coach at Iowa State from 2000-03. Since then, she has been at Illinois State, where she has guided the Redbirds to four postseason appearances. This season, the Redbirds are 23-6 and won the regular season title in the Missouri Valley Conference.