Gannon University President Keith Taylor and Director of Athletics Lisa Goddard McGuirk on Friday announced the hiring of their new women’s basketball coach, Cleve Wright.
The hiring announcement occurred a week after former women’s basketball coach Jim Brunelli was fired, along with men’s coach John Reilly.
Wright previously served as the coach of the Knights from 2002-13, seeing great success while in this position.
Wright is the all-time winningest coach in the history of Gannon women’s basketball, recording a 233-100 record, which was good for a .700 winning percentage.
Wright’s Knights appeared in five NCAA Tournaments throughout his 11 years at the helm.
Under Wright, Gannon won 37 games in 2010, a year in which he was named NCAA Division II coach of the year.
The Knights made it all the way to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament, before suffering what would be their only loss of the season to Emporia State University in the tournament semifinals.
Wright’s Gannon teams made it a habit to win games down the stretch of seasons.
They won 72% of their games during the months of February and March, going 83-33 over those two months in his 11 seasons as coach.
Wright comes back to Gannon with a plethora of coaching experience. His 11 years at Gannon constitute only a portion of his 33 total years as a coach.
However, it seems as if Wright found something about Gannon he did not find at any other university.
“I am extremely excited and grateful to return to Gannon University as the head women’s basketball coach,” Wright said Friday.
“GU and Erie are home for me and my family and I am thankful for this opportunity to once again lead one of the top women’s basketball programs in the country.”
Although Wright’s coaching stint with Gannon came before Goddard McGuirk held the position of athletics director, she still understands the significance of hiring someone with the resume Wright holds.
“We are excited to welcome a familiar face back to Gannon University and the Erie community,” Goddard McGuirk said at the press conference announcing Wright’s return.
“Coach Wright’s resume speaks for itself. He has led Gannon women’s basketball teams to conference championships, NCAA regional titles and NCAA Elite Eight appearances.”
Under Wright, the Knights also achieved excellence in the classroom.
During seven of Wright’s final eight years, Gannon was in the top 25 in the country in team grade point average.
In the 2006-2007 season the Knights recorded the sixth highest team grade point average in the country, coming in at 3.494.
“His student-athletes have always achieved success in the classroom and within the community,” said Goddard McGuirk.
“We are confident that our women’s basketball program will continue its tradition of excellence under the leadership of Coach Wright.”
Upon leaving Gannon in 2013, Wright took the head coaching job at Miami (Ohio), where he went 35-87 in four seasons, including a 16-56 mark in Mid-American Conference play.
Wright will be coming to a Gannon team that is graduating three seniors from a team that went 14-17 overall last year and 9-12 in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play under Brunelli.
The Knights currently have seven freshmen on their roster, who will turn sophomores when Wright takes over as the coach in the 2019-2020 season.