Former player of the year gets head coach job

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Olivia Lett
As an assistant coach, Olivia Lett helped the University of Chicago reach the NCAA Tournament each of the past two seasons.
Photo by Dean Reid,

Olivia Lett, the 2012 Player of the Year at Illinois Wesleyan, will take over the women’s basketball program at Millikin following the retirement of longtime coach Lori Kerans.

Lett, who played for fellow College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin member Illinois Wesleyan, has been an assistant coach at the University of Chicago for the past two seasons.

In her two seasons with the Maroons, Lett helped guide the program to two trips to the Division III NCAA Tournament. In 2017-18, the University of Chicago was UAA champions with a 24-3 record, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and earning the Maroons’ staff the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year honor.

“I am extremely excited to be returning to Central Illinois to be the head women's basketball coach at Millikin University,” Lett said. “I want to thank president Patrick White, (athletic director) Dr. Craig White, and the search committee for this opportunity. Millikin University athletics is a special community with rich history.

“I am looking forward to building on the extraordinary foundation laid by Coach Kerans. I hope to bring an exciting style of basketball to the Griswold Center by emphasizing hard work, toughness, and fundamentals. I am excited to begin the next chapter of Big Blue women's basketball.”

As a player, Lett helped the Titans to three straight CCIW regular season and tournament titles, a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Tournament (2011) and the national championship (2012).  In 2012, Lett was named a first team All-American as well as the Player of the Year, and won both awards on the conference level as well.

Lett is just the third coach in program history, following Kerans, who led the program to the 2005 national title, and Harriett Crannell.

“The experience Olivia has gained being a vital part of winning collegiate programs will serve her well as Millikin’s new head coach,” said Craig White. “She has the knowledge, energy and competitive nature to be a great head coach and we are excited that she is bringing those qualities to the Big Blue women’s basketball program.”   

Lett is the career-scoring leader at Pana High School with 2,439 points helping the Panthers advance to the state’s sectional finals three times.

In 2017, Lett was selected to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association 30 Under 30 program honoring 30 up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches age 30 and under at all levels of the game. Honorees were selected for their involvement in community service, mentorship and impact on others, professional manner, and attitude and professional association involvement.

Lett played one year professionally in Spain where her team made the league finals for Liga Femenina 2. She was named to the All Imports First Team and All-League Second Team.

Lett graduated from Illinois Wesleyan in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics.  She earned a Masters of Science in Sports Management from Illinois State University.