COLUMBIA — Standing in front of a crowd with a microphone in front of her must have evoked some stand-up comedy memories for Robin Pingeton.
The newly-introduced Missouri women’s basketball coach got a laugh out of everyone in attendance during her first day on the job.
“In regards to my contract,” Pingeton told the crowd in the Clinton Club at Mizzou Arena Thursday morning, “they just told me ‘sign here, it’s a 20-year contract, and you’re good to go.’”
All laughs aside, Pingeton has a tough job ahead of her. She has the task of turning around a Missouri program that has experienced a losing record in Big 12 Conference play in six of the past seven seasons and hasn’t been to an NCAA Tournament since 2006.
Pingeton has spent the past seven years as the head coach at Illinois State University where she finished with a record of 144-81 including two trips to the NCAA Tournament. Under Pingeton, the Redbirds have won three straight Missouri Valley Conference regular season championships.
Her contract has not been finalized, but, according to MU Athletic Director Mike Alden, it will be a five-year deal with a total package worth about $600,000.
Alden said Pingeton was at the top of Missouri’s list. He said Missouri formally interviewed two other candidates besides Pingeton, but he made it clear that she was the No. 1-choice for the job.
“I’ve known about Robin Pingeton for a long time,” Alden said. “As we watched her develop that (Illinois State program), we saw a lot of similarities between what some of our needs were here at Mizzou. There was no question she was right at the top of the list for a long time. Not just the last couple of weeks.”
Pingeton will bring her coaching staff with her from Illinois State, and she said she wants to play with an up-tempo style.
Alden discussed recruiting in his introduction of Pingeton. He said he wants the new coach to “lock down the borders” of Missouri as well as recruit from neighboring states, including the Chicago area, and Texas.
Another challenge for Pingeton will be to increase the attendance at Missouri games. Alden confirmed that there are attendance-related incentives in Pingeton’s contract.
“Attendance is a big part of it,” Pingeton said. “A fan base doesn’t grow overnight. I think fans want to come support a winning program and watch something that’s exciting to watch.”
Pingeton met with current Missouri players Wednesday night. She called the meeting “special.” While Pingeton mentioned she is still working on the names and faces of her new players, junior guard RaeShara Brown said she was impressed with her new coach.
“I felt like her vibe was very good," Brown said. "She did a great job of coming in and just embracing us. I didn't feel like it was an awkward moment from the time she walked in to the time she left. I think the team was very excited. The atmosphere was very good. She broke down her goals and values and what she expected from us, not only as basketball players but as young women."
Pingeton is no stranger to the Big 12 or Columbia. She was an assistant coach under Bill Fennelly at Iowa State from 2000-2003, and her aunt and uncle have lived in Columbia for 49 years. She praised the Big 12 Conference as the best in the country, calling it a "monster of the conference."