Santa Clara Names JR Payne As Ninth Head Women's Basketball Coach

Click here to Follow Coach Payne on Twitter

See below for what people are saying about JR Payne!

Santa Clara, Calif. - After leading Southern Utah University to a school-record 23 wins this season and advancing to the national postseason for the first time in school history, Santa Clara University is thrilled to announce it has hired JR Payne as the Broncos ninth head women's basketball coach on Sunday.  Payne has been the head coach at Southern Utah for the past five seasons and prior to that, Payne was an assistant coach on the Mission campus in 2008-09.  An All-WCC point guard who graduated from Saint Mary's in 1999, Payne has also served as an assistant coach at Boise State and Gonzaga. 

"We are excited to welcome back JR Payne to the Santa Clara family," said Bronco Athletic Director Dan Coonan.  "We were drawn to JR during our national search for so many reasons.  She has impressive Division I head coaching experience - completely turning around the Southern Utah program in her time there.  Prior to her time at Southern Utah, she made quite an impression on our staff in her brief stay here as an assistant coach.  She has a wealth of West Coast Conference knowledge as well. We know her to be a person of great character and integrity who will fit in here famously. What I love most is her perennially cheerful and optimistic disposition - it is infectious." 

"I feel so blessed for the time that I spent at Southern Utah and for the wonderful people there.  As I move on to Santa Clara, I am so excited about the opportunity to be the Bronco's next women's basketball coach. I would like to thank Father Engh and Dan Coonan as well as the entire Bronco community for making my family and I feel so welcome here at SCU," said Payne.  "The mission of Santa Clara is something I strongly believe in.  I am excited to recruit and coach the type of players and people that make SCU such a special place to be.  There is a wealth of young talent on this Bronco squad and an incredible foundation for the future has already been laid.  I am thrilled to begin working with these young women on the court and to begin to really get to know the fabulous incoming class!  I have incredibly high hopes for our program and I am honored to be accepting this position." 

During her 14-year career as a women's college basketball coach, she has been a part of four conference championships and five post-season appearances as well as an undefeated league season.  She has helped coach two All-Americans, three conference players of the year, 32 all-conference players and 31 all-academic honorees. 

Payne led the Thunderbirds to the school's first-ever Big Sky Championship this season, winning a share of the regular season title.  They defeated Colorado State, 71-56, in the first round of the WNIT, before falling at host-Colorado, 79-68, in the second round.  Setting four school records including points scored (2,454), field goals made (830), free throws made (629) and free throws attempted (839), their scoring average (74.1) and field goal attempts (1,925) were the second-best marks ever at SSU.

Payne coached Hailey Mandelko, Lori Parkinson, Andrea Jones and Carli Moreland to a number of accolades this season as well.  Mandelko was honored on the All-Big Sky First Team after ranking among the league's leaders during conference play by averaging 15.8 ppg. Mandelko was also named to the Big Sky All-Tournament Team.  

Parkinson led Southern Utah on the glass with 7.8 rpg and she was also selected as a member of the All-Conference Second Team as well as being Big Sky Player of the Week.  Jones was recognized as Big Sky Sixth Player of the Year. Moreland became just the 10th student-athlete in SUU women's basketball history to reach 1,000 career points in the Thunderbirds final home game against Northern Colorado. 

Mandelko was also named All-Big Sky in 2012-13. That team also set new program marks in total rebounds (1,356), field goal attempts (1,932), points scored (2,169) and placed four student-athletes on the Big Sky Conference All-Academic Team.  

The 2010-11 team posted a record of 16-14, the best mark in seven years, in Payne's third year. Under Payne's guidance, forward Challis Pascucci produced one of best individual performances in SUU history, earning a spot on the All-Summit League First Team.  Pascucci finished the 2011 season as the Thunderbirds all-time leader in career rebounds (929) and fourth in scoring (1,328).

Prior to coming to SUU, Payne served as the top assistant at Santa Clara University under then-first-year head coach Jennifer Mountain for the 2008-09 season. Payne also served as an assistant coach at Boise State University and Gonzaga University. During her time in Boise, the Broncos enjoyed a wealth of success, winning conference titles two of the three years and advancing to the NCAA postseason. BSU posted back-to-back 24-8 seasons, including a perfect 14-0 mark at home during the 2007-08 season.

Payne began her coaching career at Gonzaga University in 2000, serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under head coach Kelly Graves. Payne was an integral part of the Bulldogs turnaround as the team posted a five-win season during the staff's first year then went to a 28-win season during the 2004-05 season, including an undefeated run in the West Coast Conference. Payne was a part of the process that brought Gonzaga's first All-American to campus in guard Shannon Mathews. 

As a player, Payne was a four-year letter winner at St. Mary's College (Calif.), helping the Gaels earn their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in school-history during the 1998-99 season. The former point guard was an All-West Coast Conference first team selection and was also named to the West Coast Conference All-Tournament First Team twice. 

Payne is a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia and went to Windsor Secondary School.

Coaching Experience
Santa Clara University: Head Coach: 2014- (1st season)
Southern Utah University: Head Coach 2009-14 (5 seasons, 1 WNIT)
Santa Clara University: Assistant Coach: 2008-09 (1 season)
Boise State University: Assistant Coach: 2005-08 (3 seasons – 1 NCAA, 1 WNIT)
Gonzaga University: Assistant Coach: 2000-2005 (5 seasons – 1 NCAA, 1 WNIT)

Playing Experience
Saint Mary's: Point Guard for the Gaels; Led SMC to the NCAA tournament in 1999
Graduated in 1999 with a degree in French
All-WCC first team once and WCC All-Tournament team twice

What Others Are Saying About JR Payne

"JR Payne is one of the best young coaches on the West Coast.   She's a great teacher of the game and an exceptional recruiter.  Her success at building programs can only be matched by her success at building young women.  She will definitely be an asset to Santa Clara University and the community of coaches here in the West Coast Conference."

Kelly Graves, Gonzaga University, Head Women's Basketball Coach

"Coach JR and her coaching staff are the most dedicated and devoted coaches that I have ever played for. They have passion for the game, and the drive to be better. JR is an outstanding balance of being competitive and caring. She will positively push you to your limits to be successful, as a team and individually. Coach JR not only developed me as player but as a person. Now that I am a part of the professional world, I have been able to implement the drive for success, and the strong work ethic. JR has made such an impact on my life and I will always look up to her .The work ethic and compassion that she will bring to SCU will be noticed. I'm looking forward to see the success that JR and her coaching staff will bring."

- Challis Pascucci, former player at Southern Utah University

"Santa Clara made an absolutely terrific hire. JR Payne is as talented a coach as there is. Success absolutely follows her wherever she goes.  At Gonzaga, at Boise State, at Southern Utah and soon at Santa Clara.  Her student-athletes will love playing for her."

- Gordy Presnell, Boise State University, Head Women's Basketball Coach

"I'm elated for JR!  She has been a role model for me since the day I met her.  She has been a huge part of who I am today and I can never re-pay her for that. But as far as JR as a person and a coach, JR cares not only about the success of the team as a whole but for the players first and foremost. She strives to better the individual for the purpose of team success but individual development as well."

Tasha Harris, former Boise State player, 2008 WAC Scoring Champion

"JR Payne is an excellent person and outstanding coach, with the ability to develop a program with a exciting style of play.  Santa Clara University is getting a person that will make a positive impact on the community and players."
- Travis Brewster, University of North Dakota, Head Women's Basketball Coach