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Women’s Basketball Head Coach Matt Cole will take the reins of Tiger Athletics, East Central University President Wendell Godwin announced Friday. Cole, who has served as interim athletic director since March, will take up the position beginning Jan. 1.

“Matt has been with the University for nine years serving as our women’s basketball head coach,” Godwin said. “He has earned the respect of our leadership team, coaches, and our athletes.  ECU Athletics has a bright future, the support of our community and donor base is extremely strong.”

“It’s truly a great time to be a Tiger and I believe the best is still ahead,” Cole said.

“I was pleased with the search process and in the end the committee’s recommendation was clearly in favor of Matt Cole,” Godwin said.

“I would like to thank President Godwin, Dr. Nick Stowers and the search committee for their faith in me to lead the Department of Athletics at ECU,” Cole said.

The committee was made up of faculty members, coaches, local business leaders, and members of the ECU Foundation Board. Godwin said the selection process took three months and more than 40 applicants vied for the job as a result of the national search.

During his short time as interim athletic director, Cole oversaw the hiring of a men’s basketball head coach, a head baseball coach, and a head football coach, along with the assistant athletic director of resource development. Increased engagement with donors and stakeholders also contributed securing over $1.4 million in external funding and to Cole’s success as interim athletic director.  

Cole and his family – wife of 22 years, Lolly, and two children, Cael, 15, and Waverly, 12, – have been a part of the Ada community since Cole joined ECU in 2014.

Since taking the lead of the women’s basketball team, Cole accrued more than 100 wins over the last nine seasons, becoming only the third ECU coach to do so. Other accolades with the ECU team include leading ECU to its only 20-win season (2018) since joining the NCAA Division II in 1998, numerous all-conference selections, and a 100%-degree completion rate for athletes in the program.

Prior to his time at ECU, Cole spent 11 years as an assistant women's basketball coach at Northeastern State where he helped the RiverHawks to seven NCAA Tournaments, including two Sweet 16 appearances.

Prior to joining the RiverHawks staff, Cole was an assistant coach for Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kan., from 2000-03.  Cole received his master's degree in collegiate services and college teaching from Northeastern State, and he also earned his bachelor's degree in health and human performance at NSU.

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