Husband-Wife Tandem Joins Women's Basketball Coaching Staff

July 5, 2001

EUGENE, Ore. - Allison and Mike McNeill will join the University of Oregon women's basketball coaching staff, first-year coach Bev Smith announced Thursday.

Allison (Towriss) McNeill, who will become the Ducks' top assistant coach, played with Smith at Oregon from 1979-81. She had been the coach at Simon Fraser in Burnaby, B.C., for the last 13 years, compiling a 363-79 (.821) record. In 2000, McNeill, 41, also was the head Canadian Junior National Team coach, leading it to a fifth-place finish at the World Qualifying Tournament. In addition, she coached Canadian juniors and club teams from 1983 to 1987. Her coaching career has come full circle as she began as an assistant at Oregon in the 1981-82 season. She spent the following year as an assistant at Portland State.

'We're good friends both on and off the floor,' Smith said. 'Allison is a tremendous teacher and a coach. She has the best winning percentage in Canadian history at the university level. She will be a real important part of our team.'

As a player, McNeill transferred to Oregon after leading Laurentian University to two national championships. A two-year starter for the Ducks, she led the team in assists and ranked second in steals during her senior season in1980-81. McNeill, the team captain her final year, helped lead Oregon to a No. 11 national ranking. She also became the first recipient of the Jackson Award in 1981, recognizing the school's top female student-athlete. A native of Salmon Arm, B.C., she graduated from Salmon Arm Secondary, one year before Smith, in 1977. McNeill's appointment begins Aug. 1.

Her husband, Mike McNeill, brings 23 years of coaching experience to Oregon. For the last four years, he served as the assistant women's coach at Simon Fraser. This followed high school coaching stints at Mission Secondary, Hatzic Secondary and Heritage Park Secondary from 1987 to 1998. He also was the coach of the BC Provincial Junior Women's Team in 1992-93. From 1979 to 1984, he was the men's head coach at Simon Fraser and also served as an assistant there in 1978-79. McNeill, 47, began his coaching career in 1974 at Vancouver Community College, heading up the women's program for one season.

He played collegiately at Simon Fraser from 1975 to 1977, serving as team captain his final two years. McNeill earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from the University of British Columbia in 1986. His appointment begins Monday.

'Mike is a very strong, fundamental coach,' Smith said. 'We'll look for him to work with a lot of our student-athletes individually. His knowledge of the game is outstanding.'

The McNeills will be the first married coaching tandem in Oregon basketball history.

Smith's coaching staff is complete, which includes third-year Oregon assistant Dan Muscatell, who was retained following eight-year coach Jody Runge's resignation April 30.

Oregon finished the 2000-01 year with a 17-12 overall record and an eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Ducks return eight letterwinners, including 2000 Pac-10 Player-of- the-Year Shaquala Williams, and single-season 3-point field goal record-holder Jamie Craighead. Oregon also anticipates the addition of a highly-rated six-member freshman class.

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