Wittenberg hires longtime WNBA head coach as AD

Los Angeles Sparks head coach Brian Agler looks out to his team in the second half of Game 1 of the WNBA basketball finals against the Minnesota Lynx, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Minneapolis. Los Angeles won 78-76. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Los Angeles Sparks head coach Brian Agler looks out to his team in the second half of Game 1 of the WNBA basketball finals against the Minnesota Lynx, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Minneapolis. Los Angeles won 78-76. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Brian Agler returns to his alma mater 44 years after winning a national championship

Wittenberg University announced the hiring of Brian Agler, a 1980 Wittenberg graduate who won two WNBA championships as a head coach, as its new athletic director on Wednesday.

Agler, 62, replaces Gary Williams, who stepped down in September after six years in the position.

“I am honored and humbled to be offered the amazing opportunity to return to Wittenberg University, a place that I am so passionate about and that was so influential in my professional career and individual development,” Agler said. “I’m also excited to lead the athletics department, support the student-athletes and the coaches in any way I can now and moving forward, and partner with President (Michael) Frandsen and the entire university community in furthering my alma mater’s mission.”

Wittenberg’s Larry Hunter holds the 1977 national championship photo and poses for a photo with players, including Brian Agler, far left, in Springfield. Wittenberg photo
Wittenberg’s Larry Hunter holds the 1977 national championship photo and poses for a photo with players, including Brian Agler, far left, in Springfield. Wittenberg photo

Agler graduated from Elgin High School near Marion and made an immediate impact at Wittenberg in his freshman season, starting at point guard and helping lead the team to the 1977 NCAA Division III national championship. He started 112 straight games in his career and ranks second in school history in assists (481) and 15th in points (1,243). He was inducted into the Wittenberg Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.

A long coaching career included 15 seasons as a head coach at the college level with stops at Missouri-Kansas City, Northeast Oklahoma A&M and Kansas State.

Agler then coached the Columbus Quest to back-to-back American Basketball League championships in 1997 and 1998. In 1999, he moved to the WNBA as the head coach of the Minnesota Lynx. In 17 seasons in the WNBA, he had a record of 287-258 with four teams. He won his first championship with the Seattle Storm in 2010 and won another championship with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2016.

Agler coached the Dallas Wings in the WNBA the last two seasons. The franchise announced in October it was going in a different direction.

Agler told ESPN, “We had different philosophies on how to get where we all wanted to go. When that’s the case, it’s best for everyone involved to part ways. I wish Dallas nothing but the best in the future.”

The move to Wittenberg makes sense for Agler in part because he lives in Worthington. Ohio has always been his offseason home. He told the News-Sun in 2008 he tries to attend at least one Wittenberg game every season. His son Bryce graduated from Wittenberg in 2014 and has worked in the WNBA as a player development coach with the Sparks and Wings.

“Brian is a Wittenberg Tiger through and through, and we are pleased to welcome him home to lead our Athletics division,” Wittenberg President Michael Frandsen said. “An accomplished leader and winner, Brian shares our vision for providing a robust support system for our student-athletes to prepare them for life after college while also advancing Wittenberg’s teams to the highest levels of competition within NCAA Division III. His extensive knowledge of all levels of athletics, vast network of connections, and heart for mentoring will also be invaluable as we move Tiger athletics to the next level of excellence, in the competition arenas and beyond.”

In Other News