Jeff Mittie, who won a school-record 303 games in 15 seasons as TCU women’s basketball coach, resigned Tuesday to take the same job at Kansas State.
The process was a quick one, Mittie said, with both parties expressing mutual interest over the last couple of days. An official offer was extended to Mittie on Tuesday morning, he said.
Mittie, 47, will replace Deb Patterson, who was fired March 9 after 18 seasons.
Associate head coach Brian Ostermann learned during a recruiting trip that he was made the Horned Frogs’ interim head coach Tuesday and will run the team Wednesday when TCU visits Colorado at 8 p.m. in the opening round of the WNIT.
Mittie agreed to a five-year deal with the Wildcats and will earn $375,000 in his first year with $25,000 annual increases every following year. The deal also includes a $140,000 signing bonus.
His base salary at TCU was $254,677 in 2011, according to the school’s most recent IRS Form 990. Bonuses and other compensation pushed his total pay that year to $408,812.
“We love Fort Worth,” Mittie said. “We love TCU. This was just about a total situation that was too good to turn down.”
Mittie is a native of Blue Springs, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City, Mo. His wife, Shanna, is from Junction City, Kan., just 20 miles from Manhattan.
Ultimately, it was those family connections that led him to take the K-State job.
“This was a situation that was intriguing to my family,” Mittie said. “It’s a unique opportunity in the coaching world to go back where your wife is from and to go back where my brother and sister and their families and my parents are at and also have an entire athletic program that you’ve watched and you feel can go on to great things.”
Mittie notified the team Tuesday morning before it departed for Colorado. Mittie said he was hoping he could coach through the NIT but that both Kansas State and TCU were afraid of the story leaking too early.
“That was really tough,” Mittie said. “That’s a great group of players individually. There’s a lot of character. We had really grown up this year and really grown so close. It was tough to tell the team.”
Mittie is 454-234 in 22 years as a head coach. On Feb. 19, he coached his 300th victory at TCU (against Kansas State) and finishes with a record of 303-175 at the school.
Before he arrived, the women’s program held a winning percentage of 34 percent.
Mittie led TCU to 12 postseason appearances, nine in the NCAA Tournament. He has five conference coach of the year awards and has led his teams to nine conference titles.
“We can’t thank Jeff enough for the contributions he’s made to TCU and our women’s basketball program over the last 15 years,” TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a written statement. “This was not a decision about TCU. This was a decision for Jeff on being able to go home and be closer to family. We wish him the best.”
Del Conte said a national search for Mittie’s replacement will begin immediately.
“With our $59 million renovation of Daniel-Meyer Coliseum underway and our membership in the Big 12 Conference, TCU is a phenomenal job,” he said. “The future is bright for our women’s basketball program.”
Ostermann joined the team late Tuesday after driving from central Kansas to Denver. He learned he would be interim coach Tuesday morning. When Ostermann arrived in Denver, he was met with a program still scrambling to figure out what was going on.
“I see some sad faces. I see several faces and players that say they are still surprised,” he said. “I echo that. I am still surprised, too. I still have to get my head around it. It just happened at 9:30 this morning.”
Ostermann is in his sixth season as an associate head coach. Previously, he was the head men’s basketball coach at Missouri State-West Plains, a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association, for four seasons.
Before his tenure at West Plains, Ostermann spent five seasons as men’s head coach at Colby (Kan.) Community College, owning the school’s record for wins with a 95-61 record.
With a coaching emphasis on the frontcourt, Ostermann has helped mold senior Latricia Lovings into one of the program’s best shot-blockers. She holds the school record for most consecutive games with a blocked shot.
TCU is making its first postseason appearance since 2011.
The Horned Frogs (18-14) have lost three previous meetings against Colorado (17-14), the last a 96-90 overtime setback in the quarterfinals of the WNIT in 2008, which marked their deepest run in the tournament.
Sophomore forward Arielle Roberson paces Colorado’s offense and rebounding, averaging 12 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
For Ostermann and TCU, the strategy against Colorado is less X’s and O’s and more in clearing the players’ minds of Tuesday’s hectic day.
“Today, I just want to worry about this team and make sure we get as mentally healthy as we can be,” Ostermann said. “Tomorrow we’ll prepare and do our very best tomorrow night to represent TCU in a positive way.”