Roussell takes D-I job

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Aaron Roussell takes over a team that went 5-25 this past season.
University of Chicago athletics photo

Coming off a trip to the Sweet 16, a No. 2 regular-season ranking and a 27-1 overall record, University of Chicago head women's basketball coach Aaron Roussell is taking a rare leap. He was named head women's basketball coach at Division I Bucknell.

Roussell will join former Williams head coach Dave Paulsen at Bucknell, giving the Bison two former Division III head coaches at the helms of their basketball programs. He's the first D-III women's basketball coach to go directly to D-I since Scott Rueck went from George Fox to Oregon State after the 2009-10 season.

Roussell was 161-50 in his seven seasons at Chicago. He takes over a Bison team that finished 5-25 overall and 3-11 in the Patriot League in 2011-12. Bucknell made NCAA Tournament appearances in 2002 and 2008 and played in the Women’s NIT in 2007. The Bison have finished .500 or better in the Patriot League in 15 of the last 18 years.

From D-III to D-I

The list of coaches to go directly from D-III to D-I head coaching jobs in the past dozen years is relatively short. The results have been mixed, but it could be argued that the D-I programs weren't in a position to succeed regardless of coach. Click on the links to see stories on each coach's jump.

Coach, D-III school D-I school Year Best result Current job
Lisa Stone, UW-Eau Claire
Drake 2000-01 25-8, 2001-02 D-I St. Louis
Candace Crabtree, Rowan Drexel 2000-01 19-10, 2000-01 Out of coaching
Tammy Smith, Muhlenberg Lafayette 2001-02 14-16, 2007-08 Out of coaching
Julie Goodenough, Hardin-Simmons Oklahoma St. 2002-03 8-20, 2003-04 D-II Abilene Christian
Mary Hegarty, Chapman Long Beach St. 2003-04 19-9, 2004-05 Junior college asst.
Kristin Hughes, Case Colgate 2004-05 12-18, 2004-05 Out of coaching
Stefanie Pemper, Bowdoin Navy 2008-09 20-12, 2010-11 Navy
Scott Rueck, George Fox Oregon St. 2010-11 20-13, 2011-12 Oregon State
Aaron Roussell, Chicago Bucknell 2012-13 --- Bucknell

“I could not be more excited about the opportunity to lead the women’s basketball program at Bucknell University,” said Roussell. “From both a basketball and an academic standpoint, I believe Bucknell is the ideal fit for me. I am extremely thankful to the University of Chicago, because it has prepared me perfectly for a program like Bucknell and the Patriot League as a whole, which places academics in the highest regard. To be frank, there is no way I would have left Chicago unless it was for a place that shared my values on what the student-athlete experience should be all about.

“But to me Bucknell is an easy sell. You would be thrilled to send your daughter or son there, and that is important to me. Those are the kinds of student-athletes that we want, and the current players are great examples of that. I came away very impressed with the student-athletes in the program. Whenever there is a coaching transition, there is sure to be an introductory phase, so I can’t wait to get to know them all and start working together for a successful 2012-13 season.”

Prior to Roussell’s arrival at Chicago in September 2004, the Maroons had never appeared in the national rankings. But they were listed in the Top 25 in each of the past seven years under his tutelage. The program was ranked No. 2 throughout the entire regular season in 2011-12. Roussell was the UAA Coach of the Year in 2008, 2011 and 2012.

"Aaron Roussell’s departure is Chicago’s loss and Bucknell’s gain," said Chicago athletic director Tom Weingartner. "He has been a superb coach, wonderful department citizen, and great colleague."

“While this was an extremely talented and deep candidate pool, in the final analysis Aaron Roussell distinguished himself as the clear choice to lead the Bison women’s basketball program back to prominence,” Hardt said. “The University of Chicago is a world-class institution, and Aaron was able to elevate the women’s basketball program to new heights. He has earned a reputation as both a competitor and as a ‘player’s coach,’ while appreciating the challenges and demands of being a student-athlete at a high-quality university.”