Lady Bears Announce New Head Coach

Missouri State University revealed Wednesday night they have found the person that will run the successful Lady Bears program.

Beth Cunningham has been tabbed as the 9th head coach in the programs history.

She replaces Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, who led Missouri State for three years, making the NCAA Tournament twice, excluding the 2020 tournament which was cancelled.

Cunningham has an extensive résumé. Her coaching career began at VCU, where she was an assistant coach from 2001-2003. She then spent the next nine seasons as the program’s head coach, compiling an overall record of 167-115.

She then stepped down to become an at Notre Dame from 2012-2020. She has spent the last two seasons as the associate head coach at Duke.

She played her college basketball at Notre Dame, graduating as the programs all-time leading scorer.

A statement from Missouri State University can be seen below:

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — After an extensive national search, Missouri State University has selected Beth Cunningham as its next women’s basketball head coach. She will be formally introduced during a news conference Thursday on the Springfield campus.

Thursday’s news conference will start at 10 a.m. in the Plaster Student Union Ballroom East, located on the third floor. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m., and the public is invited to attend. Metered parking is available in close proximity to Plaster Student Union.

Cunningham, who owns an impressive 20-year collegiate coaching resume, arrives in Springfield from Duke University, where she has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach on coach Kara Lawson’s staff. Prior to her stint at Duke, she spent eight seasons (2012-20) as an associate head coach at Notre Dame for Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw. She was part of one of the best stretches in NCAA women’s history as Notre Dame compiled a 244-19 record in that span with seven straight 30-win seasons, six conference titles, five NCAA Final Four appearances and the 2018 National Championship. The Irish followed that up with a runner-up finish in the 2019 NCAA Championship, finishing the year with the No. 1 scoring offense in the country (88.6 points per game).

Before returning to her alma mater in the summer of 2012, Cunningham spent 11 years on the coaching staff at VCU, including one year as an assistant coach (2001-02), one as associate head coach (2002-03) and nine seasons as head coach starting in 2003-04. She is the Rams’ all-time leader in women’s basketball coaching wins with a 167-115 (.592) record and postseason appearances in each of her final five seasons. From 2008-12, VCU averaged better than 22 wins per season, including back-to-back 26-win seasons in 2008 and 2009, and the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth in 2009.

At VCU, Cunningham coached three WNBA draft picks, two All-America selections, two Colonial Athletic Association Players of the Year and 18 all-conference selections.

During her playing days at Notre Dame (1993-97), Beth (Morgan) Cunningham was a trailblazer, leading the program to its first NCAA Women’s Final Four appearance and a 31-7 campaign her senior season. She was a two-time Associated Press and WBCA honorable mention All-America choice, four-time first-team all-conference selection and two-year team captain. The Irish were 97-32 in her four seasons, including a pair of conference titles and three NCAA appearances. She departed as the all-time leading scorer in Fighting Irish women’s basketball history with 2,322 points (which now ranks third), having set or tied 28 school records during her career.

She was also a fixture in USA Basketball circles as both a player and coach, first suiting up for Team USA four times from 1996-99 (winning three medals including a gold at the 1997 USA World University Games) and later serving as the athlete representative on the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee and the USA Basketball Women’s Collegiate Committee.

Following her amateur career, Cunningham spent three seasons playing professional basketball, including two years with the Richmond/Philadelphia Rage of the American Basketball League (ABL) and one year with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in 2000 before embarking on her coaching career.

Originally from Bloomington, Ind., Cunningham was a standout two-sport performer at Bloomington South High School, earning all-state honors in both basketball and tennis. She was inducted into the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame in June 2011. She graduated from Notre Dame in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the top-ranked Mendoza College of Business before going on to earn her Master’s degree in Sports Leadership from VCU in 2003.

Cunningham and her husband, Dan, are the proud parents of three daughters (Margaret, Carly and Gretchen) and one son (Danny).

She will be the ninth coach in the history of the Missouri State Lady Bears program and replaces Amaka Agugua-Hamilton who accepted a head coaching position at Virginia last week after three seasons at MSU.

Cunningham’s contract is a five-year agreement through the 2026-27 season, with a base salary of $320,000. Additional achievement incentives for NCAA and WNIT appearances, conference championships, coaching honors, attendance average and APR standards are also included in the agreement.

Her hire is contingent upon formal approval by the Missouri State University Board of Governors later this week.

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