NAU women’s basketball coach leaves for new post

Laurie Kelly, Northern Arizona University head women’s basketball coach, has resigned to take the head coaching position at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.

Kelly leaves NAU after nine seasons as the longest tenured and winningest coach in program history, having won 117 games and the 2006 Big Sky Championship to take NAU to its only NCAA Tournament.

“I want to thank President Haeger, [Athletic Director] Jim Fallis, my coaching staff, players, boosters and the NAU community for helping to make the past nine years so memorable,” Kelly said. “I leave NAU with a heavy heart but am also excited about a new opportunity back in Minnesota.”

NAU President John Haeger wished Kelly success in her new role. “She brought us some great seasons while consistently supporting academic performance,” Haeger said. “NAU appreciates her contributions to the program.”

Kelly guided NAU to three winning seasons during her first-four years in Flagstaff including two 20-win seasons. The 2005-06 team tied the program record with 22 wins, winning three games in the Big Sky Championship and defeating host Idaho State in the title game to advance to the only NCAA tournament in program history. Her players also earned 57 Academic All-Big Sky honors during her nine-year tenure.

“Laurie has been a wonderful role model for our female student athletes and a great ambassador for NAU, not only in Flagstaff but in the entire state of Arizona,” Fallis said. “I know I speak on behalf of the entire Lumberjack family when I say thank you for your service, and you will be missed.”

The search for a replacement will begin immediately, according to Lisa Campos, vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics.

“We will look to build on the program that Laurie leaves behind,” Campos said. “I look forward to the national search and finding a new leader for our women’s basketball program.”

Former Gustavus Adolphus coach Mickey Haller resigned in March as the school’s all-time leader in coaching victories with 226.