Huskers act quickly to replace Yori, hire SD's Amy Williams

FILE - In this March 10, 2015, file photo, South Dakota head coach Amy Williams yells to her team during an NCAA college basketball game against South Dakota State in the championship of the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D. South Dakotas Amy Williams is Nebraskas new womens basketball coach. Athletic director Shawn Eichorst announced the hiring Monday, April 11, 2016. (AP Photo/The Argus Leader, Elisha Page)
AP

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Nebraska announced the hiring of South Dakota's Amy Williams as its new women's basketball coach Monday, less than a week after Connie Yori's unexpected resignation.

Williams, who will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday, played at Nebraska from 1994-98 and will go back to Lincoln following a successful four years with the Coyotes.

''What an honor to return home as the head women's basketball coach at the University of Nebraska,'' said Williams, 41. ''I am eager to continue to build on the rich tradition of my alma mater.''

Athletic director Shawn Eichorst moved swiftly to fill the vacancy created when Yori stepped down last Tuesday following an in-house investigation into allegations she mistreated and overworked her players. Yori, who led the Cornhuskers to nine NCAA Tournaments in her 14 seasons at Nebraska, has denied any wrongdoing.

Williams was 96-44 in four years at South Dakota, including a 32-6 mark with the WNIT championship this past season. Her teams won two Summit League regular-season championships, one conference tournament championship, and the Coyotes reached the NCAA Tournament in 2014.

''Amy is a very skilled and experienced basketball coach who has a track record of success both on and off the court and is an ideal fit for Nebraska,'' Eichorst said. ''Amy has built a women's basketball program from scratch into a national contender… She has a proven vision, plan and knows how to recruit regionally, nationally and internationally, which will translate very well to Nebraska.''

Williams, then Amy Gusso, first came to Nebraska from Spearfish, South Dakota, in 1994 as a walk-on guard. She appeared in 57 games in her career, starting none, and scored a total of 31 points.

She graduated in 1998 with a degree in biology and mathematics and began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Division II Nebraska-Kearney. Assistant coaching jobs followed at UTSA (2000-01), Oklahoma State (2001-05) and Tulsa (2005-07). She was head coach at NAIA Rogers State in Oklahoma for five years before going to South Dakota.

Williams takes over a Nebraska program in tumult.

The athletic department began investigating Yori's treatment of players after concerns of bullying and disregard for players' well-being were raised in February by several current players and some support staff members.

Yori, in text messages sent to media outlets last week, vehemently denied the allegations. Natalie Romeo, the team's second-leading scorer, and three male students who served as practice players told The Associated Press they never witnessed Yori overwork, bully or abuse players in any way.

Yori last summer had her contract extended through June 2020. In the statement announcing her resignation, she said personal issues prompted her departure. She accepted a separation agreement that will pay her $1.2 million.

The Huskers went 18-13 overall and 9-9 in the Big Ten. The Huskers failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four seasons and lost to Northern Iowa in the first round of the WNIT.

Romeo has received permission to contact other schools about possibly transferring. If she leaves, the Huskers would return two players – Big Ten freshman of the year Jessica Shepard and Allie Havers – who have significant starting experience.