Saint Francis University has announced that effective Feb. 1, 2019, Joe Haigh will be stepping down as the head coach of the Saint Francis University women’s basketball team.
“Over the past ten years, especially as head coach during the last six plus seasons, I have given virtually all my time and energy to coaching and developing young women at Saint Francis,” said Haigh. “Most of my waking moments have been dedicated to some aspect of the basketball program, and have applied tremendous pressure to myself especially during last season’s Championship run, and in the ensuing months leading into the 2018-19 academic year.”
While my priorities have been centered on a constant pursuit of excellence in our basketball program, I did not balance my priorities outside of basketball well, affecting my family and my health. With our oldest daughter graduating from high school this year, I now recognize that I’ve missed things that should have been more important in my life such as time with my children. At this time, I am stepping away to focus on my family to be a better father and husband, as well as focus on my health so that I can learn to better balance these priorities as a coach in the future. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to coach the Saint Francis University Red Flash Women’s Basketball program.”
“Joe Haigh and I have discussed this, and I know this was not an easy decision for him,” said Dr. Frank Montecalvo, Vice President for Innovative Partnerships and Student Development, who heads up the Athletics Division. “Under his coaching, the women’s basketball program has been a model of success in the classroom, in the community, and as a championship contender on the court. I am saddened that Joe is stepping down but I have deep respect for his decision which is in the best interest of his family.”
Originally, Haigh was granted a leave of absence on Nov. 13 from his coaching role. Director of Athletics Susan Robinson-Fruchtl assumed the position of coach for the season that was already in progress. “We want to thank Susan for her dedication to both the student-athletes and the University as a whole,” said Dr. Montecalvo. She will continue to provide leadership to the team while long-term plans are finalized.
As head coach, Haigh led the Red Flash to the second most wins in program history with 93 overall wins and a 66-42 (.611) NEC record, culminating with the program’s 2017-18 NEC Regular Season Championship and Tournament Championship.
Haigh led the program to three total post-season berths, including the first postseason win in program and Northeast Conference history in the 2016-17 WBI. In addition to the championship season, Saint Francis won the most single-season (24) and NEC wins (16) in 14 seasons in 2017-18.
An innovator in women’s basketball, playing an up-tempo offensive and defensive system, Haigh guided Saint Francis’ scoring offense to finish nationally ranked 18th in 2017-18, 30th in 2015-16, and 8th in 2013-14. SFU also ranked second in the nation in steals in 2017-18, second in the nation in blocked shots in 2016-17, and top-five in the country in 3pt shooting in each of the past three seasons. During his time as head coach, he also recruited and coached 13 NEC All-Conference Team selections, as well as one Player of the Year, two Rookies of the Year, and two Defensive Players of the Year. Three different players in Haigh’s tenure have ranked in the top 5 in the NCAA in scoring (Alli Williams, Alexa Hayward, and Jessica Kovatch).NEC