Dalton Runberg / The Collegian
After a decade at Fresno State, Adrian Wiggins will leave to take over at Ole Miss
Adrian Wiggins, who coached the Fresno State women’s basketball program to unprecedented success, is leaving to become the head coach at Ole Miss.
“It’s the hardest thing in the world to drive away from here,” Wiggins told The Fresno Bee on Monday. “I’ll miss every day I had here. I had the time of my life.”
Wiggins departs Fresno State with a 175-65 overall record in seven-plus seasons that included four regular-season conference championships, four conference tournament championships and five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
In his seven seasons as head coach, Wiggins is the only one in the program’s 45-year history to not have a losing season.
He first came to Fresno State in 2002 as the top assistant to then-head coach Stacy Johnson-Klein.
He was named the interim head coach in 2005 after Johnson-Klein was fired and led the team to a 24-7 record — a school record for wins at the time — and a quarterfinal finish at the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, which earned him the full-time job as head coach for the next six seasons.
While the move came as a shock to the Fresno State community, Wiggins wanted to stress that this wasn’t an easy decision.
“It was one of the more difficult things I had to do,” Wiggins added.
Wiggins said he had turned down other opportunities from head coaching gigs at smaller universities, to being an assistant at a big university and even a head-coaching position in the Pac-12.
“This is not something where I rushed off to the first job offered to me,” Wiggins said. “It was something that came a bit down the road.”
Wiggins said there were a lot of things to consider before accepting the job.
“There’s obviously a lot of things that go into it,” he said. “It’s a great community. It’s a wonderful university and they have an exciting, enthusiastic desire to be good in women’s basketball. But, I have that here too, so I can’t act like I don’t have that in both places.”
Wiggins, a two-time Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, will take over an Ole Miss program that went 12-18 last season and 70-83 during Rene Ladner’s five years before she stepped down March 2.
Wiggins will be introduced as the Rebels’ new coach today.
While details of his contract weren’t available, Wiggins told The Bee that Ole Miss will pay him about three times what he made per year at Fresno State.
On Guy Haberman’s radio show on ESPN AM 1430, Wiggins said Fresno State fought to keep him.
“Fresno State did their best. They offered and counter offered.”
But the offers weren’t enough to keep the university’s arguably most prolific coach from leaving.
“There was a lot in it for my family and it was something I felt I needed to do,” Wiggins said.
Associate head coach Brett Frank will also join Wiggins in Oxford, Miss. as Wiggins offered him a two-year contract at Ole Miss for the same position.
The two are looking to turn around an Ole Miss program that has a long history of success.
“This is a team that has been to 10 Sweet Sixteens and five Elite Eights and I am excited to take on the challenge of returning the Rebels to that level,” Wiggins told Olemisssports.com. “I am proud of what we accomplished at Fresno, and I look forward to reaching even greater heights in Oxford.”
Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh said Fresno State will begin the search for a new head coach “as soon as possible.”
Wiggins said Fresno State should attract quality applicants for the now vacant head coaching job.
“The returning players, the commitment that [the program] has right now, the consistency make it a very attractive job,” Wiggins said.