Nick McCutcheon, Director of Athletic Marketing and Communications
ST. JOSEPH – Missouri Western State University director of athletics Josh Looney has announced an agreement with Candi Whitaker to become the ninth head women’s basketball coach at Missouri Western.
Whitaker recently served as the head coach at Texas Tech from 2013-18. Previously she was an associate head coach at Oklahoma State (2012-13) and the head coach at UMKC (2006-12). She has coached 24 student-athletes to all-conference honors, 47 to academic all-conference status and produced seven nationally ranked recruiting classes. As a head coach, Whitaker’s student-athletes have posted a 100 percent graduation rate.
“Candi is poised to make a difference at Missouri Western,” Looney said. “We are not only adding an excellent basketball coach, but most importantly, an outstanding leader and role model for the women in our athletic program. Candi and her family will be an asset to our University and the St. Joseph community. We are thrilled to welcome Candi, Matt, Westin, William and Callahan into the Griffon family”
Whitaker will be introduced to Griffon Nation in a press conference at 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 in the Hall of Fame room inside Spratt Memorial Stadium.
“My family and I could not be more excited to join the Missouri Western family,” Whitaker said. “The tradition of the women’s basketball program, facilities, community support and the toughest Division II conference in the country, make MWSU a special place. I am excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
Named the sixth head coach at her alma mater in 2013, Whitaker turned around the program between year one and year two, going from seven wins to 15. In five seasons leading the Lady Raiders, Whitaker had four players named All-Big 12. In her final season at Texas Tech, Japreece Dean was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team after being named conference freshman of the week for a record six times. Whitaker led Texas Tech to four consecutive Big 12 Championship appearances and back-to-back quarterfinal appearances. Under Whitaker’s guidance, 11 Lady Raiders were named Academic All-Big 12 with eight earning spots on the Dean’s or President’s List.
Prior to one season as associate head coach at Oklahoma State, Whitaker became one of the youngest head coaches in women’s basketball, taking over the UMKC women’s program at age 26. She won 83 games at UMKC and left as the program’s second-winningest head coach. She led the ‘Roos to their first two NCAA Division I postseason appearances, the 2010 WBI and the 2012 WNIT. Whitaker’s 2011-12 UMKC team went 22-12 and advanced to the Summit League Tournament Championship for the first time in seven years. It remains the just the second 20-win season in the program’s time as a Division I member. Between 2008 and 2012, Whitaker produced more wins than UMKC had seen in a four-year period in 16 years. Whitaker recruited and coached UMKC’s all-time leading scorer Chanzy Morrison, and she mentored 36 Academic All-Conference selections.
Whitaker began her coaching career as an assistant coach at Valparaiso from 2002-04. During her time at Valpo, the Crusaders won back-to-back Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Championships, achieved two NCAA Tournament berths and two 20-win seasons.
Then Candi White, Whitaker helped Texas Tech to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances as a student-athlete from 2000-02. She started and played in all 64 games over two seasons under legendary head coach Marsha Sharp while totaling 232 points, 249 assists and 87 steals.
Prior to playing at Texas Tech, Whitaker played two seasons at Seward County Community College where she averaged 10.2 points and 10.8 assists and was named Honorable Mention NJCAA All-American. Whitaker’s 577 career assists at Seward County is still a record and she ranks third all-time with 225 steals.
Whitaker graduated from Texas Tech in 2002 with a degree in Exercise Sports Science and earned her Master’s in Sports Administration at Valparaiso in 2004. She and her husband, Matt Whitaker, have three sons, Westin, William and Callahan.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT COACH WHITAKER
“Candi is a great individual and a player’s coach. She develops strong and longstanding relationships with her players and families. She was a great point guard in college so she has a great mind for the game. The MIAA could be the best NCAA DII conference in the country for women’s basketball. The coach needs to be elite to have success and Candi is the perfect person for the position.”
Brian Agler, WNBA Dallas Wings head coach
“Missouri Western is a program with a long and proud tradition. Choosing Candi Whitaker to lead the program will continue that in the future. Candi is an outstanding person and coach. She and her family will be great additions to the Missouri Western family.”
Bill Fennelly, Iowa State head women’s basketball coach
“Candi Whitaker will bring instant energy, passion and a strong work ethic which will immediately impact this basketball program. She has been around great basketball her entire life and brings all of those experiences with her. I am excited to watch her start this new era for Missouri Western State University.”
Marsha Sharp, former Texas Tech head women’s basketball coach and associate athletic director
“Missouri Western is getting a great coach and even better person. Candi’s experience and leadership will help propel the school to the next level. I’m looking forward to following her success at Missouri Western.”
Mike Carey, West Virginia head women’s basketball coac