MACON, Ga. - Mercer University Director of Athletics Jim Cole has announced that women's basketball head coach Susie Gardner will remain in Macon for the foreseeable future after signing a contract extension through the 2017-18 season. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
With over 200 Division I wins to her resume, Gardner enters her fourth season at Mercer having transformed the Bears into one of the premier mid-major programs in the southeast.
"Watching Coach Gardner's historic turnaround with our women's basketball program, both academically and competitively, over the past three years has been very exciting to watch," Cole said. "Susie and her staff have done a tremendous job developing and recruiting the type of student-athletes that are willing to work hard on the court and in the classroom. We are proud of what they have accomplished thus far and cannot wait to see what the future holds."
Following a pair of rebuilding years to start her stint at Mercer, Gardner guided the Bears to a breakout 2012-13 campaign. Mercer posted a 20-12 record for the program's first 20-win season since the 1991-92 campaign. Aided by the second-biggest turnaround in the country, based on total wins, Mercer capped off the season by earning the No. 1 seed in the 2013 Women's Basketball Invitational for its first appearance in a nationally sponsored postseason tournament since 1985.
"When I arrived at Mercer three years ago, President William Underwood, Director of Athletics Jim Cole and Senior Women's Administrator Sybil Blalock all gave me their unwavering support," Gardner said. "Our administration gives us all the resources we need in order to be successful and I can't think of a better time to be at Mercer University than right now."
Prior to arriving at Mercer, Gardner spent the three campaigns (2007-10) as an assistant coach at the University of Florida. Before her stint in Gainesville, Gardner had a pair of head coaching gigs at the University of Arkansas for four seasons (2003-07) and at Austin Peay State University for seven seasons (1996-2003), where she directed the Lady Govs to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2001-2003.
"Our coaching staff is thrilled about what we are doing as a program right now whether it be our 3.0 team GPA, our performance on the court or our summer trip to Ghana," Gardner said. "It has been a tremendous rebuilding process over the last few years. We are excited about the future and not just with the team we are putting on the floor this year, but the players that will be representing Mercer women's basketball in the near future."
Looking ahead to the 2013-14 season, Gardner returns four starters from last year's squad, including Atlantic Sun All-Conference first team selections Precious Bridges and Kendra Grant.
Mercer opens the 2013-14 campaign on October 31 with a home exhibition contest against Northwood (Fla.).