News & Events

Werner Ladder Naismith Women's College Coach of the Year Finalists Announced

Mar 15, 2017

ATLANTA (March 15, 2017) – Four candidates have advanced to the next round of voting for the 2017 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year. The group features three would-be first- time winners, both individually and for their university, and a coach who already has claimed seven awards. Karen Aston (University of Texas), Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut), Scott Rueck (Oregon State University) and Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State University) make up the final ballot, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today.

The four finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former Naismith Award winners and conference commissioners, who based their selections on outstanding coaching performances during the 2016-17 college basketball season. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, formerly Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, the largest full-service, independent CPA-led business advisory firm based in Atlanta.

This year, fans have a say in the overall voting process. Between March 20-31 fans can voteto cast their ballot for one of these four Naismith Award finalists. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 31 and fans are limited to one vote per day. The fan vote will account for 5% of the total vote.

The 2017 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year winner will be announced on April 1.

“These coaches took talented teams and made them even better throughout the season, which is quite a challenge. They inspired their players to achieve higher levels of success, which is evident in a number of record-setting accolades for their respective programs,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

“Werner is excited to be associated with the Naismith Coach of the Year Awards for the first time,” said Chris Filardi, vice president of marketing for Werner Co. “To recognize the incredible accomplishments of these college basketball coaches and watch how they lead their teams throughout the season is truly an honor.”

About the finalists:

Karen Aston

  • Led Texas to a 23-8 (15-3 Big 12) record, including a 19-game win streak, the 10th-longest in program history
  • The Longhorns posted six wins against Associated Press Top-25 opponents during the 2016-17 season
  • Recorded her fourth consecutive 20-plus win season in her five-year tenure
  • Secured a No. 3 seed in the Lexington, KY region, the Longhorns fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance
  • Aston became the second-winningest head coach in Texas school history (112 victories), trailing only Jody Conradt
  • Aston was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year for the first time in her career

Geno Auriemma

  • Led UConn to its fourth straight American Athletic Conference Tournament championship, as well as its fourth consecutive AAC regular-season crown
  • The Huskies are 32-0 this season and have won 107 straight contests dating back to 2014
  • Completed the regular-season without a loss for the ninth time in his career
  • Was named American Athletic Conference Co-Coach of the Year
  • Took the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament (Bridgeport, CT Region)
  • Won the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year on seven previous occasions (2016, 2009, 2008, 2002, 2000, 1997, 1995)

Scott Rueck

  • Guided OSU to a 29-4 overall record (16-2 in the Pac-12), the second-highest single-season win total in program history
  • Led the Beavers to a third consecutive Pac-12 regular-season title in a year when OSU was projected to finish fifth in the  league
  • Was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the fourth time in the eight-year history of the award
  • Has a record of 151-80 at Oregon State, the second-highest win total in program history
  • Oregon State is 112-25 over the last four seasons
  • Open the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed in the Stockton, CA region

Vic Schaefer

  • Led the Bulldog team to a 27-3 record, tied for the second-most wins in school history, including a school-best 13 games in the SEC
  • Became the first MSU coach to win 25-plus games in three straight seasons
  • Recorded the program’s first-ever win at Tennessee and halted Iowa State’s 96-game home win streak in regular-season non-conference games
  • Guided MSU to its first top-5 national ranking, and the No. 5 RPI in the nation
  • Recorded MSU’s top 3 single-season wins marks each of the last three seasons
  • Received the program’s highest seed in the NCAA Tournament, with a No. 2 seed in the Oklahoma City,  OK region

The inaugural Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award went to Pat Summitt (University of Tennessee) in 1987; she went on to win four more (2004, 1998, 1994, 1989).

For more information, visit


Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, which are the most prestigious national honors in all of college basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy recognizes the top Men’s and Women’s college basketball players, coaches, administrators and officials. The Naismith Trophy was first presented to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1969. Old Dominion’s Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women’s Naismith Trophy in 1983. The Werner Ladder Naismith College Coach of the Year was first presented in 1987 to Bob Knight (Indiana University) and Pat Summitt (University of Tennessee).


WERNER is the official ladder of the Naismith Awards and the world leader in ladders offering a complete line of climbing products designed for working at heights. The portfolio includes ladders, attic ladders, scaffolding, pump jacks, stages, planks, step stools, accessories and fall protection equipment including harnesses, lanyards, anchors and compliance kits. From ladders to fall protection, WERNER provides a full line of climbing equipment that's engineered to provide maximum safety, durability and productivity at every height. All WERNER products meet or exceed applicable international safety standards. For more information, visit