Photo Courtesy: SAU Athletics (Concordia Texas Sports Information)
MAGNOLIA, Ark. (SAU) - After a nation-wide search for a new head women's basketball coach, Southern Arkansas University Director of Athletics Steve Browning has announced the appointment of Rusty Rainbolt to the position effective Friday, April 5.
"We're excited about the addition of Coach Rainbolt to our athletic department," Browning said. "His energy, passion and proven success are some of the key ingredients that make him a great fit to lead the Lady Muleriders. Off the court, we have no doubt he and his family will be a tremendous addition to Magnolia and the community."
Rainbolt, who becomes the fifth head coach in program history, comes to Southern Arkansas after serving the past three seasons in the same role at NCAA Division III-affiliated Concordia University Texas in Austin.
"I am excited to be the new head women's basketball coach at Southern Arkansas," Rainbolt remarked. "I feel that there is a lot of potential at SAU, and I am looking forward to getting things going. My family and I would like to express our appreciation to the people at Concordia for our time there. We are now eager to be a part of the close-knit communities of SAU and Magnolia."
¬While at Concordia Texas (CTX), Rainbolt guided the program to new heights as he amassed a 54-24 (.692) overall record, coupled with an impressive 45-16 (.738) mark in conference play.
In just his second season at the helm at CTX, Rainbolt was named the 2011-12 American Southwest Conference (ASC) West Division Coach of the Year after he guided his team to a program-best 23 wins and a regular season conference championship.
That same year, Rainbolt's Tornados became the first women's sport at the school to appear in an NCAA tournament after capturing the ASC Tournament Championship.
A testament to his ability to recruit as head coach at CTX, Rainbolt coached a conference newcomer of the year/player of the year in Shamika Singleton (2011), a conference defensive player of the year in Domonique Liddell (2013), and a conference freshman of the year in DJay Vallier (2013). In addition to the specialty awards, Rainbolt coached 12 all-conference players in his three seasons at CTX.
On the court success was not all that Rainbolt attained at CTX. In each of his three seasons, his teams turned in a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.2 or better with nine players being named to academic all-conference teams.
Prior to his appointment at CTX, Rainbolt served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the women's basketball program at McMurry. While there, he helped McMurry appear in two ASC tournaments, including a runner-up finish in 2010. All-told McMurry posted a combined 39-16 record with Rainbolt on staff.
Before his time at McMurry, Rainbolt spent one season as an assistant coach at Wayland Baptist University. In that position, he served as the recruiting coordinator and worked with the post players.
Rainbolt began his collegiate coaching career at Hardin-Simmons in a graduate assistant role during the 2007-08 season. Before that, he coached Trinity Christian High School in Lubbock, Texas, from 2003-06. In that time, his teams won two TAPPS 4A girls state championships in 2004 and 2005.
Rainbolt earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sports sciences from Texas Tech in 2005 before receiving a master's degree in sports recreation and management from Hardin-Simmons in 2008. He and his wife Audra now have three daughters: Bailey (5), Summer (3) and Rhilee (Born on March 31, 2013).
Those wishing to meet Coach Rainbolt may do so at a scheduled meet-and-greet reception at noon on Monday, April 8 in Room 205 of the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center. The public is encouraged to attend.