By Th‚oden K. Janes

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Opportunity knocked, and Clemette Haskins was there to answer.

After six years as an assistant women's basketball coach, the last four of which have been spent at Arizona, Haskins fulfilled a dream when she was named the University of Dayton's head coach on Saturday.

During her tenure as an assistant to UA head coach Joan Bonvicini, Haskins has become known as one of the top assistants in the country, as well as a highly-regarded recruiter.

She has also played a large role in the program's turnaround.

In Haskins' first year at Arizona, the Wildcats were 6-25. They were 9-19 in her second, 13-14 in her third and this year finished 15-12, their first winning season since 1986.

For Dayton Athletic Director Ted Kissell, the decision to hire Haskins was easy to make.

"Clemette Haskins has established herself in her profession as a 'can't-miss' prospect as a head coach," Kissell said. "She is knowledgeable and experienced in the full range of responsibilities necessary to lead a successful basketball program."

Regarded by Bonvicini as an excellent people person, Haskins built a terrific rapport with players and often set aside time to chat with players about their problems on an individual basis.

"I feel very passionate about creating role models for young women," Haskins said. "I think they have great leadership and great foresight for the future, not only for women's basketball, but for young people in general."

Haskins has passed up several opportunities to become a head coach in the past and accepted the job at Dayton because of the school's reputation and its academic integrity.

"I'm very happy for Clemette," Bonvicini said. "She has been an outstanding and loyal assistant. I have no doubt she will become a very successful head coach."

From 1983-87, Haskins was a point guard at Western Kentucky, and was named an All-American three times while leading the Hilltoppers to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and two straight Final Fours.

Haskins, 28, becomes one of the youngest Division I women's head coaches in the country, and also is part of what is believed to be the first father-daughter head coaching combination in NCAA Division I history.

Her father, Clem, is currently the men's basketball coach at Minnesota.

Clem was an All-American at Western Kentucky and played for the Chicago Bulls, Washington Bullets and Phoenix Suns in the NBA.

Clemette will replace Sue Ramsey, who ended her career as the Flyers' head coach after nine years. Read Next Article