JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A familiar face will continue forging the path to unprecedented success for Jacksonville University women's basketball as Darnell Haney was elevated to head coach following a nation-wide search, as announced Tuesday afternoon by JU Athletic Director Alex Ricker-Gilbert.
"The Jacksonville University Athletic Department is ecstatic to announce the hiring of Darnell Haney as the next head coach of our women's basketball program," expressed Ricker-Gilbert. "We have spent the last six days conducting a national search that has included talking with candidates and representatives from California to Boston. It became crystal clear over the past 48 hours that we have the home run hire we need for our program already here at Jacksonville University.
"Darnell has been an integral part of the most successful five-year run in program history. He is a man of the highest character and will be an incredible role model for our current and future student-athletes. Darnell and his family love Jacksonville, love our university, and love our young women. We are fortunate to have Darnell lead our program into the future."
A staple on the Dolphin sidelines for the past five seasons, Haney served as associate head coach the last two seasons under former head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin, who recently departed for the same role at Ole Miss.
"Darnell being named the next head coach at Jacksonville not only makes sense but it is a smash hire," exclaimed McCuin. "Darnell is competent and ready to take over the helm at Jacksonville! He is a father, husband and a person of high character. I'm excited that he and his family can continue to plant seeds in a place that they love dearly!"
With Haney's leadership on the sidelines the past five seasons, first as assistant coach and most recently as associate head coach, the Dolphins have risen to unprecedented heights.
Crowned 2016 ASUN Champions and made its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Dolphins made back-to-back Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) appearances in 2017 and 2018 – another first in the program's 18-year history.
In the 2017-18 season alone, Jacksonville won a program-best 24 games (24-9), eclipsing the previous record of 23 tied by the previous year's squad, en route to 16 new program records. The team led the ASUN in 10 different statistical categories, including rebounds and blocked shots.
"I am both honored and humbled to be named Head Coach of the Jacksonville University women's basketball program. This is a dream come true and the ultimate blessing for my family and me," stated Haney. "Over the past five years, we have built a successful foundation and culture, and I look forward to assembling a strong, supportive staff and a group of players who will fit that culture and build on that foundation.
"President Cost and [Athletic Director] Alex Ricker-Gilbert continue to show their commitment to enhancing all aspects of this University and I am thankful they chose me to lead this program into the future. Our goal everyday will be to relentlessly use action to build, sustain, and elevate this program on the floor, in the classroom, and in this great community. I am so ready to roll up these sleeves and begin doing that."
Leading the development of the Dolphins' post players, scouting, and defensive game planning, Haney's work ethic is evident as the 2017-18 team ranked among the nation's best in offensive rebounds per game (7th), rebound margin (27th), and three-point field goal defense (28.4). His mentoring of the Dolphins' post players over the past five years has been fruitful, with players earning 13 All-ASUN selections, and two student-athletes garnering Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and Newcomer of the Year accolades.
Prior to Jacksonville, Haney spent the 2010-13 seasons turning Jones High School's girls' basketball into a powerhouse program in Florida as its head coach. A three-time FACA Coach of the Year, Haney developed several Division I players, while also leading the program to a pair of district titles and state Final Four appearances.
A Miami, Fla. native, Haney served as an instructor for two years at The Edge Training Facility, known as the premier training facility in the state of Florida. In conjunction with former Boston Celtic Dee Brown, Haney performed team and individual skill development sessions, camps, and clinics, and worked with a range of clientele from beginning players, to elite prep, college, and professional athletes in the NBA and European Leagues.
From 2006-09, Haney served in a pair of coaching roles in high school boys' basketball. From 2006-09, he was an assistant varsity and head junior varsity coach to the legendary Jerry Howard at Jones High School in Orlando, Fla., where he developed 11 eventual collegiate athletes, three of whom are now playing professionally. Haney also served as head coach at South Lake High School in Groveland, Fla. in 2009.
A 2004 graduate of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology, Haney also holds a Master of Science in Athletic Administration from Nova Southeastern University (2010). He attended Miami Southridge Senior High School, where he was a three-year basketball letterman and team captain.
He and his wife, Aaliyah, reside in Jacksonville with their three children, Imani, Caleb, and Avery.