UTSA made the switch to Conference USA (C-USA) for the 2013-14 season in July. Coinciding with the move were two major UTSA basketball decisions that came to a head over the summer.
On July 26 UTSA Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey announced men’s basketball Head Coach Brooks Thompson had signed a contract extension. The terms of the contract were not specified, but Thompson will remain with UTSA at least until the end of the 2016-17 season.
Just 13 days later, women’s basketball Head Coach Rae Ripptoe-Blair announced she was officially resigning her position effective August 15, 2013.She cited personal reasons as the determining cause.
Thompson has been head coach of the Roadrunners since April 18, 2006. Under Thompson, UTSA basketball has reached its highest level of success, culminating with the university’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win on March 16, 2011 over Alabama State in the first round.
In an official statement Hickey praised the work Thompson has done during his tenure at UTSA both on the court and in the classrooms.
“We are very appreciative of the job Brooks has done for this program,” Hickey said. “When he arrived, he was faced with a tremendous challenge, and he and his staff have turned things around both on and off the court. When you look at the things he has done with our APR and graduation rate and then see the quality and high character of the student-athletes he has brought to UTSA, we wanted to show support in return. Our recent conference moves have created another tremendous challenge for men’s basketball, and this extension provides stability that is deserved as we enter a very competitive league in Conference USA.”
Last season, the 43-year-old Thompson endured one of his toughest seasons as a head coach. UTSA finished with a 9-21 regular season record, and Thompson tied own career-low at UTSA with only three conference wins. The ‘Runners were able to make the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament last season as a No. 9 seed. They upset top-seeded Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals before losing in the semifinals to Texas-Arlington.
Ripptoe-Blair leaves UTSA after 13 seasons at the helm. The Roadrunners produced only two seasons with a losing record with her as coach – she also collected two 20-win seasons. During that time, she garnered three Southland Conference Coach of the Year awards (2001, ’03, ’09) and led UTSA to two NCAA tournament appearances (2008, ’09).
Last season, Ripptoe-Blair missed 3 ½ games over two-weeks of the season due to an undisclosed illness; however, she managed to direct the Roadrunners to a 16-14 regular season record and a 10-8 conference record. In last season’s WAC tournament, UTSA lost as a No. 4 seed to fifth-seeded Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals. Hickey’s official statement was also complimentary and appreciative for Ripptoe-Blair’s accomplishments.
“The women’s basketball program reached new levels of success under Rae and I’m very thankful for all of her hard work throughout the last 13 years,” Hickey said. “She will always be part of the Roadrunners’ family, and I wish the best for her and her family in the future.”
UTSA Associate Head Coach Lubomyr Lichonczak has taken charge of the program under an interim head coach title. The UTSA Athletics Department has begun a search for Rippetoe-Blair’s replacement.
“I would like to thank Dr. Ricardo Romo, Lynn Hickey, all of my assistant coaches and players throughout the years along with my extended Roadrunners family for all of their efforts and support during my tenure,” Rippetoe-Blair said in an official statemnt provided by the email from the UTSA Athletics Department.