Women’s basketball coaches Drew and Nicole Johnson to leave Jets

May 10, 2023
Coaches Drew and Nicole Johnson will not return for another women's basketball season at Newman University.
Coaches Drew and Nicole Johnson will not return for another women's basketball season at Newman University.

Women’s basketball coaches Drew and Nicole Johnson resigned Monday to head north to Kearney, Nebraska.

The husband-wife coaching duo spent just two seasons at the helm of the Jets, posting a 13-43 overall record. The two inherited a heavily depleted roster in the summer of 2021 before taking the Jets to the MIAA Tournament in March this year.

The 3-25 (1-21 MIAA) record in 2021-22 was a program low since joining the NCAA Division II ranks. Meanwhile, the 2022-23 campaign shined a brighter light on Newman women’s basketball with a 10-18 (7-15 MIAA) record as the Jets earned their first double-digit win season since the 2019-20 season. Seven MIAA wins also bested the six tallied in the 2019-20 year.

The MIAA Tournament appearance was the first ever of its kind for Newman and the program’s first postseason trip since 2018-19 when the Jets finished as runners-up in the 2019 Heartland Conference Tournament. At this year’s MIAA Tournament, Newman suffered a 70-54 defeat at the hands of Northwest Missouri State in the first round.

Drew had this to say after what turned out to be his final contest leading the navy and red:

“I find myself mildly emotional. … Success is always player-driven and I told them in the locker room that we challenged them (Newman) a lot this year. … I think the biggest takeaway is if you work really really hard for something and you pour everything into it, good things can happen. It’s easy in our culture and our world to not invest everything you’ve got in your heart because you might come up short, but this group invested an incredible amount to try and give it a shot and it worked out for them.”

The Johnsons coached two All-MIAA athletes in Britney Ho third team) and Maddie Spagnola (honorable mention). Seven members of the team also earned academic All-MIAA awards in 2023.

Prior to joining Newman, Drew spent four seasons at Bethel and led the team to its first-ever NAIA National Tournament appearance. In 2017-18, Johnson took over the Threshers women’s program which had a 4-26 record the season prior to his hiring. Bethel tripled its previous win total in Johnson’s first season going 12-18. In his second season, he led Bethel to a historic 20-10 season, setting a new school mark for wins. During the 2018-19 season, Johnson’s team broke numerous program records and hosted its first KCAC postseason contest in eight years.

During his four seasons at Bethel, Johnson coached nine ALL-KCAC honorees and three all-American selections.

Director of Athletics Joanna Pryor and her appointed search committee have begun a nationwide search for the next head women’s basketball coach.

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