AKRON, Ohio -- University of Akron women's basketball head coach Jodi Kest has agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep her at the helm of the program through the 2017-18 season. The terms of the agreement are pending approval by the University's Board of Trustees.
"Coach Kest has worked tirelessly for the past seven years to change the women's basketball culture at Akron and establish a winning tradition," UA Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill said. "Following the most successful season in school history, we are proud to make this commitment to Jodi as she continues to build the program into one of the best in the Mid-American Conference."
Now the longest tenured women's basketball head coach in the MAC, Kest is entering her eighth season with the Zips after guiding them to their second postseason berth in four years and a school record 23 victories in 2012-13. She has won more than 320 games in her 21 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
"I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to lead the Zips for five more years," Kest said. "I am also very appreciative of the commitment and the support from the university administration, in particular (President) Dr. Luis Proenza, Tom Wistrcill and (Senior Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator) Mary Lu Gribschaw. This administration truly believes in what we have built and has faith in the future of our program. Akron is a great place to be, and the opportunity to work with our student-athletes and build on our success is one that I cherish every day."
Akron has established itself as one of the top teams in the MAC under Kest's leadership. Most recently in 2013, the Zips advanced to their first ever league title game and brought home the program's first East Division crown, marking the first time since 2005 a team other than Bowling Green had won the division. Last year's squad broke more than 10 school records, and finished the year with the seventh-highest scoring average in all of Division I at 75.4 points per game.
A northeast Ohio native, Kest became UA's all-time winningest women's basketball coach on Dec. 1, 2012, when the Zips defeated Canisius 81-72 at James A. Rhodes Arena. Kest continued to take the Zips on a historic ride all the way to the Women's NIT, which was Akron's first invitation to the postseason tournament since 1999. Akron has advanced to postseason play three times in its 39-year history, twice under the direction of Kest.
Over the past several seasons, Kest has mentored standout Rachel Tecca, a local product from Tallmadge, Ohio, and developed her into the first MAC Player of the Year and Academic All-American for Akron women's basketball just one year removed from a season-ending ACL injury. Tecca surpassed 1,000 career points in the second game of the season last year en route to breaking the school's single-season scoring record.
For the first time in program history, three Akron players earned All-MAC recognition in 2012-13, headlined by Tecca (first team) who was joined by classmates Sina King (third team) and Hanna Luburgh (third team). Tecca and Luburgh went on to receive All-MAC Tournament Team nods, and five Zips garnered Academic All-MAC honors, another program record.
Last year, Kest also coached arguably the most unselfish point guard in the nation in Kacie Cassell, who finished the season ranked first in the country in assists per game, averaging 7.8 per contest and breaking the school's single-season and career assists records.
Kest graduated with a bachelor of science degree in physical education from Slippery Rock University in 1984, where she was a two-sport standout in basketball and tennis. The three-time basketball team captain garnered All-American honors on the hardwood her final two seasons.
She led the "Rock" in scoring in three successive seasons, finishing her collegiate career with 1,289 points and 540 rebounds, and was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.
In 1986, Kest received a master of science in education from Northwest Missouri State, where she served as graduate assistant coach from 1984-86.