|Connie Richardson won 382 games and two OAC Coach of the Year awards in 28 seasons on the Cardinals' sideline.
Photo by Ed Syguda, Otterbein University
A series of moves in the Otterbein athletic department included Connie Richardson stepping down from her position as head women's basketball coach after 28 seasons. Her assistant Diana Noles will take over the program.
Otterbein Director of Athletics Dawn Stewart was promoted to the University's position of interim Vice President for Student Affairs. Connie Richardson will support Stewart as the Senior Associate Athletic Director and oversee the Department's daily operations during the 2019-20 academic year. Those new duties in hand, Richardson decided to step down as the women's basketball coach.
"I guess I have to grow up now," said Richardson in Otterbein's release. "I believe in surrounding yourself with the right people and then taking care of those people. Dawn will have a ton on her plate and I'm excited for her to experience this new opportunity. There are always bumps in the road, but my plan is to not miss a step and make sure we keep creating positive experiences here in Athletics."
Richardson became head coach in 1991 and led the Cardinals to a 382-344 record over 28 seasons. Her best season came in 2012-13 when the Cardinals went 21-7 and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Maryville (Tenn.) in the first round. Otterbein cracked the Top 25 the previous season when the Cardinals went 20-7. Richardson won the OAC Coach of the Year award in 2001 and 2005.
"The relationships and bonds you build with people throughout the years are what I remember most," Richardson said. "It will be a little weird because this has been my identity for so long, but I'm not going too far. I still get to watch the kids and continue my friendships with everyone on our amazing athletic staff. I love this department and am excited to remain part of the success."
Two days after Richardson's announcement, the University announced that her assistant Diana Noles will lead the program.
"Diana has earned this opportunity and we are excited for her leadership of the women's basketball program," Stewart said in an Otterbein release. "Diana is an incredible competitor and wonderful mentor. She values the Division III experience and personally invests in her student-athletes. As a player and a coach, she knows what it takes to win and how to get results."
As a player Diana Esterkamp played for Richardson for four seasons and became the program leader for career assists (674) and three-point percentage for a season (.486). She is the only player in Otterbein women's basketball history to record 1000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists.
"This is a bittersweet moment taking over for Connie," Noles said. "[Richardson] has done so much for not only this program, but for me personally and my family. It's hard to see her step away after almost three decades, but I hope I can make her proud and continue building on the way she takes care of people within this program. She's a great person and even better friend."
Otterbein finished 16-11, 11-7 in the OAC last season.