Ed Beach, Assistant Athletic Director for External Affairs
SPRINGFIELD — After six seasons leading the Drury University women’s basketball program, Molly Miller has accepted the head coaching position at Grand Canyon University, an NCAA Division I program in Phoenix, Arizona, and a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
Miller departs Drury with a career record of 180-17. Her .914 winning percentage is the best mark in program history and leads all active women’s basketball coaches at all levels of the NCAA. She exits just six wins shy of the team record for all-time coaching wins – a mark she could have reached this year had the NCAA-II tournament not been canceled.
Coach Miller led the Lady Panthers to a 32-0 record, a number one national ranking in Division II, a 20-0 mark in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, and their fourth straight GLVC championship. Drury became the first team in league history to complete back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, and they were the first team ever in the GLVC to win the conference championship for a fourth year in a row.
Miller was named the US Marine Corps/NCAA-II Coach of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association in 2020 and 2019. She was also awarded the GLVC Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons.
During the 2019-20 campaign, Miller also coached the GLVC Player of the Year in Hailey Diestelkamp, the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, Daejah Bernard, and the squad featured four all-conference performers. The Lady Panthers led the nation in scoring margin, winning by an average of 28.5 points per game, they were number one in steals (17.3 per game), best in the country in turnover margin (+15.3 per game), and they ranked second nationally in scoring averaging 90.1 points. In addition to her team’s accomplishments, Miller also gave birth during the season as the family welcomed their second child, Cy Miller, into the world on Jan. 23.
The Lady Panthers finished the 2018-19 season with a 35-1 mark, won the NCAA-II Midwest Regional, and advanced to the national semifinals. They have gone 67-1 in the last two years and posted a 128-8 record in the previous four seasons, winning at least 30 games in each of those four years.
“Today has been the epitome of a glad and sad day,” said Drury Vice President & Director of Athletics, Corey Bray. “While I am happy for coach Miller and her family as they embark on an incredible opportunity at Grand Canyon University, I am sad to lose her as a part of the Drury Panthers family. She has been an integral part of the Springfield community her entire life, and she has been a profoundly impactful member of the Drury community as a student, an athlete and as a coach.
“Her program exemplifies what it means to be more than champions in the classroom, in the community, and in competition. The culture of excellence within the Lady Panthers program starts with her as the head coach and it is a reflection of her as a person and mentor to the Lady Panthers. The ‘scarlet and grey’ will always run through her veins, and she will forever be a Lady Panther.”
Miller started her tenure leading Drury’s program as an interim head coach at the beginning of the 2014-15 season. After a 7-2 start and a number 16 national ranking, her interim tag was removed on Dec. 18 of that year, and she went on to lead the Lady Panthers to a 26-4 record, a 17-1 mark in the GLVC, a conference championship, and an NCAA-II tournament appearance.
Miller will depart from the Ozarks as not just one of area’s most accomplished coaches, but also as of the region’s best players in history. Molly (Carter) Miller was a four-year standout for the Lady Panthers from 2004-08 and still ranks fourth on Drury’s all-time scoring list with 1,570 points. She ranks third all-time in assists (439) and second in steals (409). Miller was also the winner of the GLVC’s Paragon Award as a senior, the highest honor bestowed to a student-athlete by the league. She earned All-Great Lakes Valley Conference honors three times and was Third Team NCAA-II All-American as a senior. She was named the Heartland Conference Freshman of the Year in 2005 in Drury’s final season as a member of that league.
In her four seasons in a Lady Panthers uniform, Drury amassed a record of 112-18, qualified for the NCAA-II Tournament four times (including the 2007 Elite Eight in Kearney, Neb.) and captured the GLVC title in 2008 as well as the Heartland Conference crown in 2005.
Miller also had a storied high school career at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, helping the Lady Chiefs to state championships in her freshman and junior seasons. In 2002-03, Kickapoo went 31-0 and were ranked 13th in the nation by USA Today. They went 110-9 during her four years on the varsity squad. She was named an all-state performer three times in her career, a four-time all-academic selection in the Ozark Conference, and graduated from Kickapoo as the valedictorian of her high school class.
Following her playing career, Miller was inducted into the GLVC Hall of Fame in 2014 and became the first Drury individual from any sport to receive those honors from the league. She was inducted into the Drury Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
A national search for Drury’s next head coach will begin immediately.
“Through two decades and four different head coaches, the Drury women’s basketball program has established itself as an elite program at the NCAA-II level,” said Bray. “I am committed, as is the entire Drury community, to maintaining our championship level of excellence as we begin the search for our next head coach.”
The Drury Lady Panthers have an all-time record of 520-109 (.817) since their inception in 2000-2001, and have made 17 appearances in the NCAA-II tournament, won nine conference championships, and four regional titles.