Burke went 35-18 in 2 years, led Eagles to Cal-Pac semifinals
PRESCOTT — Becky Burke has stepped down as head coach of the Embry-Riddle women’s basketball program and taken the same position at the University of Charleston in West Virginia, the athletic department confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
First reported by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Burke takes over an NCAA Division II program that hasn’t finished above .500 since the 2014-15 campaign.
Burke, who led the Eagles to a 21-6 (11-3 Cal-Pac) and conference tournament semifinal in the program’s second year of existence this past winter, said her departure is “bittersweet.”
“I think when a good opportunity comes, you have to seize it,” Burke said in a phone interview Wednesday, adding that she informed the players this past weekend that she was leaving the Eagles program she helped build from the ground up.
“They took it pretty hard, but they are good people and they understand it’s a great opportunity for me,” Burke said. “They are bummed out, I’m bummed out, but at the same time, I’m looking forward. The girls will be fine, they’ll be great.”
Burke reiterated with the players during the meeting that she, “didn’t score one point the last two years, they did that. The goal remains the same.”
“Whomever comes in and coaches this team will be a lucky person,” Burke said.
The one-time Louisville standout said departing an Eagles program that broke into the NAIA Top 25 this season is hard, but she’s excited to start a new chapter in her coaching career.
“They have great resources, a great campus. I think we can win there,” Burke said about Charleston, adding the move also returns her to the East Coast and closer to family.
Golden Eagles athletic director Dr. Bren Stevens said Burke stood out among more than 150 applicants for the position because of how well she did at Embry-Riddle building the program.
“Being able to go in there and start from scratch, it speaks to her ability to put the right culture in place quickly,” Stevens said. “She’s very talented. My expectations are she’ll be able to turn around our program in a short period of time.”
Burke came to Prescott in 2015 and started the basketball program from scratch, quickly building a contender within the California Pacific Conference, finishing 14-12 overall during the program’s first year in 2016-17.
In two seasons, Burke coached the Cal-Pac Newcomer of the Year and recently, Freshman of the Year Bethany Wolph, to go along with several All-Conference awards.
Embry-Riddle athletic director Jaime Long said Burke has done a “remarkable job” in leading the program through its first two years of existence.
“She put our program in a great place and we look forward to continuing to build the program on the foundation Becky put in place,” Long said in a statement.
Burke said her mentor, Steve Harold, a head coach she worked for at St. Josephs College prior to Embry-Riddle, let her know the position at Charleston was available and would be a “good fit.”
“He suggested it to me. He’s from West Virginia and was familiar with the job,” Burke said.
A national search for a new coach will begin immediately, Long said.
It is unknown whether assistant coaches Rachel Galligan or Travis Steadman would be in the running for the position.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.
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