Johnston leaves SDSU after more than seven seasons

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

After more than seven years of guiding the Jackrabbits, Head Coach Aaron Johnston has decided to leave the plains of South Dakota for greener pastures in Wisconsin, accepting the job as women’s head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

“It is a great opportunity for me to join the well-established Phoenix women’s basketball program,” said Johnston in a press release. “I appreciate the confidence extended from the leadership of UW-Green Bay and I am anxious to begin the process of adding to the wonderful foundation that is already in place.”

Johnston has led the Jacks to seven of the most prosperous years in school history. He led the Jacks to three consecutive Division-II Elite Eight appearances, including the Jackrabbits won their first-ever Division-II national title under Johnston in 2002-2003. Johnston compiled a 170-55 record during his tenure. In his seven full seasons as a coach, Johnston never finished below .500 and never won less than 15 games.

“I am excited that we have someone of Aaron’s caliber to lead our program,” said University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Director of Athletics Ken Bothof.

Last season, Johnston coached the Jacks to a 25-6 record and a Women’s National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal appearance, where the team lost to eventual WNIT champion Wyoming.

In 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 Johnston was named Division I Independent Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year. He was also named the South Dakota Sportswriters Women’s College Coach of the Year in 2006.

Johnston takes over a strong program. Last season, Green Bay won the Horizon League with a 16-0 conference record and finished the season 29-4 overall. The Phoenix lost to the University of Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Phoenix job opened up when former coach Kevin Borseth left Green Bay for the University of Michigan women’s head coaching position.