Kansas State athletic director John Currie promised to move quickly in his national search for a new women’s basketball coach.
Currie did just that, announcing Tuesday in a press release that Jeff Mittie has taken over the program just 10 days after Deb Patterson was fired from the post she held for 18 seasons.
In a rare move by luring a head coach away from a conference rival, K-State plucked Mittie from TCU where he was 303-175 in 14 seasons, including 11 postseason appearances and nine NCAA tournaments.
“Coach Mittie’s success as a head coach at three different institutions, Midwest background as well as his reputation as a top-notch recruiter make him the ideal fit to lead our women’s basketball program,” Currie said in the press release.
“We set out to find the very best basketball coach for K-State, whose personal values and integrity reflects those of our university and one that appreciates the unique opportunity of being part of our strong basketball tradition and commitment to championship performances, and we are confident that Jeff Mittie is that person.”
Mittie, 47, enjoyed unprecedented success at TCU, winning nearly 100 more games since his arrival in 1999 than the Horned Frogs had won the previous 22 years.
But since joining the Big 12 two years ago, wins became harder to come by for TCU, going just 10-26. The Horned Frogs finished seventh in the conference this season — three games ahead of the Wildcats — but were 9-21 overall and last in the Big 12 a year ago with a 2-16 record. Mittie, who will be formally introduced at a press conference next Tuesday, is 43-49 overall the past three seasons.
Mittie takes over a K-State program that had been among the best in the Big 12 under Patterson since 2002 — a stretch that included 11 postseason appearances, nine NCAA tournaments and two conference titles.
If Mittie can keep the current team intact, he’s set to inherit a group Patterson believed could contend for a Big 12 title in the coming seasons. Led by freshman guard Leti Romero — an All-Big 12 selection this season — the Wildcats are set to return a nucleus of young talent, including freshmen Kindred Wesemann and Bre Lewis, as well as key veterans Bri Craig, Ashia Woods and Haley Texada.
“This was the youngest team in the Big 12 this year, so I am excited to work with the players,” Mittie said in the release. “I am always excited about developing a team and that challenge. I think Kansas State and my family will be a really great fit. I am looking forward to getting recruiting started across the state of Kansas and developing those very important relationships.”
Mittie is one of the winningest active coaches in NCAA Division-I with more than 450 career victories, 15 postseason appearances, nine conference titles and five conference coach of the year honors in 22 years. He recorded his 300th-career victory at TCU on Feb. 19 this past season during a home win against K-State.
The Blue Springs, Mo., native has agreed to a five-year contract that will pay him $375,000 in the first year of his contract with $25,000 annual increases each year remaining on the contract. Mittie will receive a $140,000 signing bonus.
Some reports, however, show Mittie earned more than $630,000 from TCU in 2011 — with a base of $261,678 and more than $377,000 coming from other compensation. It’s unsure yet if Mittie will have a similar deal at K-State.
“I want to thank President (Kirk) Schulz and athletic director Currie for giving me this opportunity,” Mittie said. “It is a tremendous opportunity at a terrific institution that, I believe, in women’s basketball has proven that the fan base can get excited about.”
Prior to TCU, Mittie was 75-42 in four years at Arkansas State and 76-17 in three years as head coach at Missouri Western. In 1995, Mittie guided Missouri Western to a 31-3 record, including a 15-1 conference record and a trip to the Division-II Final Four.
Mittie and his wife, Shanna, who is a native of Junction City and a graduate of Chapman High School, are the parents of three children — daughters Logan and Madison and son Jordan.