Purdue women’s basketball made the official announcement this morning via Twitter that former Purdue great, now former Marian University head basketball coach, Katie Gearlds will be returning to Purdue as Associate Head Coach for the 2021-2022 season. She will ultimately take over the head job in 2022-2023. Mike Bobinski seems to be imitating the Gene Keady to Matt Painter transition that worked so well under former Purdue AD Morgan Burke.
Gearlds played at Purdue from 2003-2007 and played under both former head coach Kristy Curry and current head coach (and new boss) Sharon Versyp. Gearlds was quite a player at Purdue averaging over 14 points a game to go along with 3.8 rebounds and 3 assists. Those stats were enough for her to be taken 7th overall in the 2007 WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm. She played three seasons with the Storm before moving on to play overseas. Following her retirement from playing the game Gearlds returned to the States and went into coaching (she’d done some coaching while overseas).
Gearlds has been the head coach of Marian University since 2013 and has built them into quite the powerhouse. In her second year with the team they went 28-6 and went to just their second ever NAIA Tournament. They also won their first ever league title. The next two seasons Gearlds not only got the team back to the NAIA tournament she won the damn thing! Twice! In a row!
While the team hasn’t won the NAIA National Title since then they’ve won their league for 6 straight seasons. Her full bio can be found on the Marian website. Purdue is getting a great coach with ties to not only Purdue but the state of Indiana as well.
This seems like the best case scenario for Gearlds and Purdue. Sharon Versyp will finish out the final year of her contract and there will be no unnecessary drama around her lack of contract extension or any issues about if/when an announcement would be made about her successor. From a recruiting standpoint this seems like a no brainer. You give the incoming recruits (and current players) a sense of stability and you allow Gearlds to hit the ground running for her first recruiting class. It’s also a good move financially as the pandemic has tightened budgets throughout the department and this prevents Purdue from having to fire Versyp early and pay a buyout.
Make no mistake, this is a big step up in competition for Gearlds but she is intimately familiar with the conference and has built Marian into an NAIA powerhouse. It’s time for the image of Purdue Women’s Basketball to be rebuilt to its former glory. At this moment in time Katie Gearlds seems like the absolute right choice for the team, for the school, and for the program.