Dennison’s Lee assumes new role in department; Steps down from WBB post

Denison University’s Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Nan Carney-DeBord has announced that Sara Lee has been promoted to the roles of Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics, and Senior Woman Administrator for the Big Red athletics department. Additionally, Coach Lee has announced that she is stepping down from her post as Denison’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach after 33 years leading the program.

Carney-DeBord spoke on the promotion of Coach Lee, saying “Sara has been on the Athletics’ Leadership Team for the past 11 years. She has sport mentoring oversight, has worked endlessly with our CARE team and has been deeply involved with hiring, mentoring and retaining our impressively talented coaching and administrative staff. Sara’s leadership prowess in the role of head basketball coach will transition smoothly as she will continue to serve as a conduit for the head coaches, will lead our diversity and inclusion advisory group, serve the North Coast Athletic Conference on several committees and offer her experience, knowledge, and expertise in the governance structure of the NCAA. With the growth of the department, sport and facility enhancements, I welcome her partnership in the leadership of Athletics. She has been a guiding light, a brilliant leader, and thoughtful colleague for the department throughout her career and will impact our future growth, in this role.”

In the 33 years as Denison’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Lee accumulated a 503-347 (.592 pct.) career record while winning four North Coast Athletic Conference regular-season championships and seven NCAC Tournament titles. She was a six-time NCAC Coach of the Year (1990-91, 1997-98, 2006-07, 2010-11, 2015-16, and 2018-19).

This season on February 2, 2022, the Big Red defeated the College of Wooster 81-52 to help Coach Lee earn her 500th career victory as head coach. In 2010-11, the Big Red completed the conference’s first undefeated regular season at 25-0 and went on to capture the NCAC Tournament title for the sixth time in seven years. Led by NCAC Player of the Year, Shaina Kaiser, Denison finished the year 28-0, marking the best season in program history.

In addition to her basketball coaching duties, Lee spent 18 seasons as the head volleyball coach at Denison. She stepped down prior to the 2007 season after recording 386 career victories. She is the program’s all-time leader in wins and holds a .616 career winning percentage as the head volleyball coach. The team’s 31 victories in 1993 set a new school record that still stands.

“The past 33 years coaching here have been extremely rewarding,” said Lee. “During this time, I have had the privilege of working with many outstanding student-athletes and coaches. I will continue to value and nurture these relationships throughout my lifetime. I am excited for this new challenge and the opportunity to continue to work with all students, staff and the Denison community.”

In 1989, Lee came to Denison from Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, where she was the head coach of women’s volleyball and women’s basketball. While at Lake Erie, she also served as the coordinator of women’s athletics and as an instructor of physical education.

A native of Moorhead, Minnesota, Lee enrolled at Minnesota State Moorhead after graduating from high school in 1982. She earned her B.S. in physical education from Minnesota State Moorhead in 1986 and went on to earn an M.A. in athletic administration from Kent State in 1987.

While at Minnesota State Moorhead, Lee’s athletic career was highlighted by several outstanding accomplishments. She was a four-year letter winner in each of three sports: volleyball, women’s basketball and softball. In volleyball, Lee earned all-conference and all-district recognition her junior and senior years and was twice named as her team’s most valuable player. Her senior year, Lee served as a basketball captain, and she was an all-district selection in softball.

In 1995, Lee was inducted into the Minnesota State Moorhead Athletic Hall of Fame for her distinguished accomplishments and career both on and off the playing field; and in 2016, she was inducted into the Northern Suns Intercollegiate Conference Hall of Fame.

Lee’s honors as an undergraduate include the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Scholarship which is awarded annually by NAIA athletic directors. Lee was also honored as the recipient of the Minnesota State Moorhead Student-Athlete Award her senior year. At Kent State, Lee was selected for a graduate assistantship in physical education.

Please join us in congratulating Coach Sara Lee for her continued service and commitment to Denison athletics, and in welcoming her on her transition into a continued leadership role within the athletics department.

Photo Courtesy Dennison Athletics

Tagged with: