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WBaskKelly named head coach at Northern Arizona, Conover to assume duties as interim head coach

After five successful seasons as the helm of the women’s basketball program, head coach Laurie Kelly has been named the head coach at Northern Arizona University. Associate head coach Rich Conover, who filled in for Kelly while she was on maternity leave this past season, will continue as the interim head coach.

At Binghamton, Kelly has run up a record of 97-30 (.764). She guided the Bearcats to a 75-13 mark in its three years on the NCAA Division II level (1998-01). During that time, Binghamton advanced to the 1999 NCAA Tournament and captured the 2000 and 2001 ECAC titles. At the Division I level, Kelly led the Bearcats’ to a 19-9 record in their first Division I season, including a 10-6 mark in the America East Conference. Kelly was named the New England Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in 1999 and the New York State Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association Co-Coach of the Year in 2002.

“For me, its hard to describe what the past five years at Binghamton have meant to me both professionally and personally,” Kelly said. “The former and current players, the coaching staff and community people have been so supportive. It’s a sad but happy day for me. Even though I am moving closer to family (Kelly’s parents live in Tucson), I am leaving people who have been like family to me.”

“Laurie has done an outstanding job with our program during our transition to the Division I level,” Athletic Director Joel Thirer said. “We wish her well as she joins her family and friends out in Arizona.”

Conover, who has been on the staff since 1999, was the acting head coach for 16 games this past season, guiding the Bearcats to a 7-9 record during that stretch. Prior to coming to Binghamton, he was the head coach at SUNY Oneonta during the 1998-99 season, where he guided the Red Dragons to a post season berth. He was also the head coach at Castleton State (Vt.) for two years, compiling a 42-13 record (.763) with back-to-back NAIA tournament appearances. His first head coaching assignment came at St. Joseph’s College (Vt.), where he held the head job from 1994-96.

“I am very pleased and happy that Rich will be continuing to guide the program,” Kelly said. “He is a good friend and a great coach who showed his ability during the past season. It makes it easier for me to move on.”

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