(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— Missouri Western State University introduced former Texas Tech head coach Candi Whitaker as the ninth head women's basketball coach in program history Wednesday afternoon.
She was the head coach at her alma mater Texas Tech for four and a half years from 2013 until Jan. 2018 and previously was an associate head coach at Oklahoma State for the 2012-13 season while getting her head coaching start at UMKC in 2006.
"Candi will make a difference here at Missouri Western," Looney said. "I can promise you that."
Whitaker takes over a Missouri Western program that finished 15-14 overall and 8-11 in the MIAA. Despite the up and down year from the Griffons, Whitaker is motivated to coach in one of the top Division II conferences.
"I love that you have a chance at the Division II level if you can put the right team together at the right time, you have a chance to win a championship," Whitaker said.
During the introduction Wednesday, Looney brought up a story about how it was actually Missouri Western president Dr. Robert Vartabedian who told him about Whitaker. And if Vartabedian never calls his athletic director, there's possibly a chance that Whitaker isn't the next head women's basketball coach at the university.
"Candi Whitaker lived on the same street as Dr. Vartabedian back in Canyon, Texas," said Looney during Whitaker's introductory news conference Wednesday.
Whitaker and Vartabedian's son, Robbie, were classmates growing up, but who's to say that Looney wouldn't have found Whitaker regardless of the recommendation or vice-versa.
After former women's head coach Rob Edmisson stepped down last month, the search for the next head coach started immediately with the search committee bringing seven candidates to campus including three sitting Division II head coaches, one top assistant from a top-level MIAA program, a longtime Division I head coach, a top Division I assistant and of course, Whitaker.
"No two searches are the same when you go through coaching searches, especially when it comes to searches that involve men's or women's basketball," Looney said.
And while introducing Whitaker to boosters, fans, university staff members and students Wednesday, Looney praised her ability to lead a program, especially during her time as the head coach at UMKC—taking the 'Roos to the postseason twice.
"From a personal standpoint, it's incredibly impressive," Looney said. "She's somebody that I definitely want to be at the forefront of our women's athletics here at Missouri Western without a doubt."
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