Bill Cleary Named Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Colgate

Colgate Athletics has named Bill Cleary to its head women’s basketball coaching position. A formal press conference announcement is set for Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in Huntington Gym.

Cleary takes over as the 10th head coach in Colgate Women’s Basketball history. The 13-year veteran built successful programs in both of his previous head coaching stops, arriving at Colgate after eight seasons at Bloomsburg and five at Wilmington (Del.).

During his eight-year tenure at Bloomsburg, Cleary compiled a 164-69 (.704) overall record and a 97-42 (.698) mark in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

The Huskies won just eight games the year before Cleary’s arrival, but he put together four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 2012-15, a PSAC title and five straight PSAC East Division crowns.

Bloomsburg’s 102 wins during that four-year NCAA run were the most in school history, and the 2012 NCAA tournament bid was the program’s first in 20 years.

“We are thrilled to have Bill lead our women’s basketball program,” said Colgate Vice President and Director of Athletics Victoria M. Chun ’91, MA’94. “His long history as a successful head coach, his commitment to off-the-court success, his mentorship of assistant coaches and his commitment to giving student-athletes a positive experience are core values of his that align perfectly with those of our university.

“Bill is a proven winner whose energy, passion and drive are second to none. We are excited to welcome him, his wife, Jackie, and their two sons, Billy and Chase, to our Colgate family.”

This season, Cleary coached two Huskies to major awards. Senior Adreana Sadowski earned PSAC East Division Defensive Player of the Year and rookie Julia Gantz was named PSAC East Division Freshman of the Year. Gantz was the fourth freshman of the year honoree for the Huskies under Cleary, who also coached four PSAC East players of the year in the last six seasons.

Awards weren’t limited to the student-athletes under Cleary, who three times was named PSAC East Coach of the Year and in 2015 earned WBCA Atlantic Region Coach of the Year. That season, he guided the Huskies to a 26-5 overall mark and a 20-2 record in the PSAC. The campaign ended at the NCAA regional final in heartbreaking fashion, a 72-69 overtime decision at the hands of eventual national champion California (Pa.) on the Cal home court.

During his eight years at Bloomsburg, Cleary recruited and coached four 1,000-point scorers.

“I’m really excited to join the Colgate family,” Cleary said. “You can see the passion, energy and commitment on display under Vicky Chun, and it’s an incredible opportunity.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of taking over the Colgate program and making the Raiders a team to be reckoned with in the Patriot League. The academic and athletic reputation of the school is second to none. I am going to work very hard to make the women’s basketball team a program the community of Hamilton and everyone in Central New York can be proud of each and every day.”

Cleary also thanked those involved in helping make his time at Bloomsburg so successful.

“I can’t leave Bloomsburg University without thanking the administration led by Dr. David Soltz as well as former athletic director Mary Gardner, who took a chance on me years ago, and current AD Michael McFarland for the support they have given to me over the years,” Cleary said. “Also, thanks to my former assistant coach Diane Decker (now head coach at East Stroudsburg) and my current assistants Alyssa Flanagan and Advia Campbell for all their hard work and dedication.

“And finally, I want to thank the many players who played for me. They were the main reasons for the success we were able to achieve. Without their efforts I would not be where I am today.”

The first head-coaching position for Cleary was at Wilmington (Del.), where he turned around another struggling program. The Wildcats in Cleary’s first season of 2003-04 won two games for the sixth straight season. Four years later, Wilmington went 22-9 and captured an ECAC Division II title for its first championship in school history.

A native of the Philadelphia suburb of Broomall, Cleary began his career with one season as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Towson and two years as a men’s basketball graduate assistant at Georgia Tech under Paul Hewitt. While in Atlanta, Cleary earned his master’s degree in sports administration from Georgia State University in 2002.

Cleary is a 1998 graduate of Villanova University with a degree in political science. He and his wife, Jackie, are the parents of sons Billy and Chase.

Photo Courtesy Colgate Athletics

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