Garner named Women’s Basketball Head Coach at Cornell

Emily Garner, who lifted Trinity College to new heights during her eight seasons at the helm of the Division III program, has been named the Rebecca Quinn Morgan ’60 Head Coach of Cornell Women’s Basketball by Nicki Moore, the Meakem & Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education. Garner becomes the eighth head coach in school history and replaces Dayna Smith, who spent the previous 21 years directing the program.

“In Emily, I believe we’ve found a coach who not only cares deeply about the student-athlete experience but has also demonstrated the ability to elevate the competitive success of teams at academically rigorous institutions,” Moore said. “From her experiences at winning programs as an assistant coach to her playing experience at Lafayette, and especially having developed as a head coach for eight years, Emily has all the skills and owns the intangibles necessary to elevate Big Red basketball. In addition, our committee and I genuinely enjoyed spending time with her, and could imagine her thoughtfully mentoring our student-athletes and developing them as high-level players and people. I’d also like to thank Jenna McLaughlin and the team at Korn Ferry for their tireless work in assisting us finding the right fit for the position. I am thrilled to welcome Emily to Ithaca.”

“I am incredibly grateful and excited for the opportunity to serve as the Rebecca Quinn Morgan ’60 head women’s basketball coach at Cornell University,” Garner said. “A heartfelt thank you to Dr. Nicki Moore and the search committee for entrusting me with leading our student-athletes in their pursuit of excellence on the court, in the classroom, and in the community. Cornell is a special place, and I’m looking forward to building relationships and working to create a strong competitive tradition in the Ivy League.”

Garner guided Trinity (Conn.) to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances (2023, 2024) and the school’s first-ever NESCAC regular season title. Her teams posted a 124-55 record, including a 96-35 mark over her final five seasons, while playing in the most competitive league in Division III. Taking over a program that had historically occupied the bottom half of the standings in her conference prior to her arrival, Garner led her Trinity to the league tournament in each of her final six seasons, reaching the championship game for the first time in program history in 2023.

The 2021-22 NESCAC Coach of the Year, Garner was named Regional Coach of the Year in 2022-23 after guiding the Bantams to a school-record 25 wins, the conference’s regular season title, and an eventual NCAA Elite Eight appearance. Her teams have been among the top defensively in the country over the past three years, ranking in the top 40 nationally in scoring defense (36th in 2022, 18th in 2023, 24th in 2024) while taking care of the basketball (top 30 nationally in fewest turnovers in both 2023 and 2024). A total of 30 players were named to the NESCAC All-Academic Team during her time leading the program.

Garner’s commitment to player development led to four major conference award winners in the conference, including three different Defensive Players of the Year, and a two-time All-American.

An engaged member of the Trinity community, Garner served on the Task Force for Women, the Athletics DEI Committee, and the Task Force for Campus Climate, and served as an assistant professor of Physical Education, ultimately receiving recognition on the college’s “50 for the Next 50” list, honoring women who would have a lasting impact on the future of Trinity College.

She previously served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Army West Point from 2012-16, helping the Black Knights to four postseason appearances, including a pair of NCAA appearances, and a 99-28 record. Army West Point also played in two WNIT’s during her time on the sidelines and she coached a pair of conference players of the year. In her final season under head coach Dave Magarity, the Black Knights went 29-3 and won regular season and tournament titles in the Patriot League.

Garner began her coaching career in 2010 as a graduate assistant at LIU-Brooklyn after graduating from Lafayette. A three-year starter for the Leopards, she was elected team captain as a senior and earned Patriot League All-Tournament honors that season. She graduated ranked in the top 10 in school history in rebounds, free throws made and free throws attempted.

A 2009 graduate of Lafayette with a degree in English with a minor in Economics and Business, Garner earned her Master’s in Secondary English Education from LIU in 2012. She is also a graduate of the 2018 NCAA Women Coaches Academy, which is hosted in partnership with the Alliance of Women Coaches and is a four-day educational training available to NCAA coaches of all experience levels. The NCAA Women Coaches Academy is designed for women coaches who are ready to increase their effectiveness by learning advanced skills and strategies that directly affect their personal and team success. She is also an active member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

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