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BREAKING: Hawai’i Pacific’s Katie Novak tabbed as UMHB women’s basketball’s next head coach

Photo of Katie Novak courtesy of Sul Ross State University

BELTON- Katie NovakLenoir is coming back to Texas. 

The former head coach at Sul Ross State and an alum of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Novak has long been known within Texas’ women’s basketball circles. 

After spending a year outside of the Lone Star State as the head coach at D-II Hawaii Pacific, Novak is returning to Texas as UMHB’s next head women’s basketball coach, according to sources who spoke with True To The Cru. Dave Campbell’s Texas Basketball writer Cory Hogue reported the story first. Additionally, Spectrum News in Honolulu reported Novak’s departure from Hawai’i Pacific on Thursday night.

UPDATE: April 19, 2023

UMHB officially announced the hiring on Wednesday morning, confirming Friday’s reports.

“I am truly honored to be at the helm of such a historic program and to join the championship culture of UMHB,” Novak-Lenoir said in a press release. “I want to thank Dr. Randy O’Rear, Dr. Steve Theodore, Dr. Mickey Kerr, and Randy Mann for the opportunity to lead this stellar group of young women on and off the court. There is an abundance of talented returning players, and I am looking forward to working with them to achieve our goals this coming season.”

Said Vice President for Athletics Dr. Mickey Kerr in the release: “Coach Katie Novak-Lenoir is exactly who we were looking for as our next head coach for women’s basketball,” Vice President for Athletics Mickey Kerr said. “She has experience successfully recruiting and coaching NCAA DIII athletes, coaching in the American Southwest Conference and preparing her teams for success.”

Novak’s past head coaching experience

A native of Lockport, Illinois, Novak guided Hawai’i Pacific to a 14-14 record in her lone season at the helm in 2022-23, as the Sharks went 12-8 in the PacWest Conference. HPU finished sixth in the league, qualifying for the PacWest Conference Tournament. Novak took over a program that was “in disarray” according to an article from Spectrum News in Honolulu, after former head coach Reid Takatsuka was dismissed in the middle of the 2021-22 season due to alleged mistreatment of players, and turned it into a competitive program in a short amount of time.

Novak brought in West Texas A&M’s Abby Spurgin as a transfer prior to the 2022-23 season, and helped Spurgin find great success at HPU, as the center was named the PacWest Conference’s Player of the Year.

Even more importantly, she brings experience in the American Southwest Conference–UMHB’s league–to the table, having spent five seasons leading the Sul Ross State women’s basketball program, from 2017 to 2022. 

When she departed Alpine last spring, she did so as the winningest coach in SRSU’s D-III history, which began in 1996, with 42 wins. Additionally, the Lobos’ 14-11 record in 2021-22 marked the program’s first winning season since 2003, and the team’s 10 ASC wins in that same year were the most in a single season for SRSU since joining the ASC. 

In 2020-21, Novak earned the ASC’s West Division Coach of the Year honor, having led SRSU to a third-place finish in the West Division, and along with that, the highest single-season winning percentage in program history. In that season, SRSU defeated UMHB for the first time since 2004, and also won a game in the ASC Tournament for the first time in program history.

Additional notes

Novak’s hiring at UMHB means that the Cru basketball programs will both be led by former Sul Ross State head coaches, as Clif Carroll, who coached the Lobos’ men’s team from 2015-2020, is entering his fourth season as the UMHB men’s head coach. 

She replaces former head coach Mark Morefield, who was let go on Jan. 24 of this year, with the Crusaders midway through the conference schedule. Kendra Foreman stepped in as the interim head coach for the final 10 games of the season, posting a 6-4 record. 

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