Southern Arkansas hires Matthews as new Women’s Basketball Head Coach

Southern Arkansas University Director of Athletics Steve Browning has announced that Darrick Matthews has been named the eighth head coach of the Mulerider Women’s Basketball program; effective immediately. The official announcement was made at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 8. Matthews brings ten years of highly successful head coaching experience and 185 career wins to Magnolia.

“It was obvious from the moment Coach Matthews stepped foot on campus that he is the visionary leader that our women’s basketball program needs,” remarked Browning. “His enthusiasm, knowledge, professionalism, and passion for teaching not only the sport of basketball, but for how to win in life, will make him a great asset to our University.”

Matthews’ appointment as the newest leader of Mulerider Women’s Basketball, which will take the floor this coming fall for its 59th official season of competition, makes him the sixth head coach in the program’s NCAA Era (1995-96) and the fifth in its Great American Conference membership (2011-12).

“I’m extremely honored, blessed, and excited to have the opportunity to lead the Mulerider Women’s Basketball program,” noted Matthews. “It was evident once I stepped foot on campus that SAU is building something special, and I am excited to embark on this journey. I am deeply grateful to the search committee, Director of Athletics Steve Browning, and Interim President Dr. David Rankin for entrusting me with the honor of leading the women’s basketball program. I am thrilled about this journey, and I look forward to instilling a winning mentality, creating a positive environment, and building a program many will be proud to support.”

Matthews arrives at Southern Arkansas after a highly-impressive nine-year run as head coach at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. During his time directing the Drovers, Matthews accumulated 167 wins which included seven-consecutive winning seasons from 2017-18 through the 2023-24 campaign. Within that run is six-straight seasons of 20 or more victories and a USAO program record 29 wins during his third year in Chickasha.

“His success is evident not only in the games that he has won, but also in his ability to recruit and relate to student-athletes in this new era of basketball which will help lead our program into the future,” added Browning. “Coach Matthews, his wife Sirena and son Ayzden will be a great fit for Magnolia and I cannot wait for our team and community to get the opportunity to work alongside them for years to come.”

Under Matthews, the Drovers not only experienced a complete turnaround, but established a new standard of expectations. From 2010-11 to 2014-15, USAO won an average of five games per season. Following a five-win season in year one for Matthews (2015-16), the Drovers improved in the win column by seven games and reached a dozen wins for the first time since 2008-09. In year three, the turnaround was complete as Matthews’ squad finished a victory shy of the 30-win mark on its way to the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) regular season title and a second round appearance in the NAIA National Tournament; the first of five national tournament berths (2018, 2019, 2022, 2023, 2024) for the Drovers during Matthews’ tenure.

That historic ’17-18 season resulted in Matthews being named the SAC and Oklahoma Sports Net (OSN) Coach of the Year as well as the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Regional Coach of the Year. Matthews claimed the latter honor for a second time following the 2020-21 season.

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunities and experiences USAO was able to provide me over the last 9 years,” Matthews added. “The support and guidance have been invaluable in shaping my professional journey.”
Prior to his near decade stint at USAO, Matthews led Southwestern Christian University during the 2014-15 season. The Eagles won 18 games, a seven-game improvement from the previous season, and placed fourth at the National Christian College Athletic Association Division I National Tournament.

As a head coach, Matthews recruited and mentored nine NAIA All-Americans with eight of those receiving WBCA All-American honors, three NAIA Academic All-Americans, twenty-five all-conference performers and seven superlative award winners including four SAC Defensive Players of the Year, the 2019 SAC Player of the Year and the 2021 SAC Newcomer of the Year. Additionally, thirty-one student-athletes earned placement on the SAC Commissioner Honor Roll (3.25 GPA) and thirteen were named NAIA Scholar-Athletes (3.5 GPA).

Before becoming the head coach of SCU’s women’s program, Matthews served as an assistant coach for the men’s program during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons where he mentored 2013 NAIA Dunk Champion and former Harlem Globetrotter Tyler Inman.

Matthews’ first year in college coaching came in the 2011-12 season as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Sul Ross State under former USAO head coach Jennifer Hayden. The year prior, Matthews served as an assistant boys’ basketball coach at Cooper High School (Abilene, Texas).

As a player, Matthews began his career at Oklahoma Christian in 2007 before transferring to the University of the Southwest for his sophomore season. Matthews led the Mustangs in scoring at 19.4 points per game during the 2008-09 season which earned him All-Red River Conference First Team plaudits. He concluded his career at McMurry University in 2009-10 helping lead the War Hawks to the American Southwest Conference (ASC) title.

Matthews graduated magna cum laude from McMurry University in 2011 with a B.S. degree in Mathematics Education and minor in Curriculum Instruction. In 2012, Matthews graduated from Sul Ross State with a M.Ed. degree with emphasis in Physical Education. He is currently completing coursework for his doctoral degree in sports management from the United States Sports Academy.

Matthews holds a professional membership with the WBCA where he has served as a conference captain and coach mentor in addition to speaking on multiple occasions at the convention on topics such as effective mentoring and growth through mentorship. Additionally, he has served as a clinic speaker at both the BMCC Coaches’ Clinic and Texas Tech Coaches’ Clinic. Matthews was selected as a coach for the 2023 NCAA College Basketball Academy.

Matthews and his wife Sirena, have one child, Ayzden. A formal meet-and-greet with Coach Matthews and his family will be arranged with the date and time to be announced.

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