Women's Basketball's McNeill Earns Promotion; Operations Director Hired

July 26, 2002

EUGENE, Ore. - University of Oregon women's basketball assistant coach Allison McNeill has been promoted to associate head coach.

'As associate head coach, she's just playing up to her role and her experience in assuming more responsibility with the coaching staff,' second-year head coach Bev Smith said. 'I think her overall qualities as a past head coach is certainly something that allows her to contribute a great way to our team's success.'

McNeill played with Smith at Oregon from 1979-81. Before returning to her alma mater in August 2001, she was the head coach at Simon Fraser in Burnaby, B.C., for 13 years, compiling a 363-79 (.821) record. At Simon Fraser, she earned NAIA/Kodak Regional Coach of the Year honors following the 2000 campaign. In October 2001, McNeill was appointed the head coach of the Canadian National Team.

The women's basketball team also announced the hiring of Natasha (O'Brien) Ruckwardt as its first director of operations in the program's history. Her appointment begins Monday.

Her duties will include film/video exchange along with coordinating summer camps, team travel and monitoring the academic progress of the basketball team. She assisted at the Ducks' practices and games last season.

Ruckwardt was a two-year starting forward for Oregon in 1997-98 and 1998-99, helping the team to its first Pac-10 title her senior year. As co-captain her final season, she averaged 9.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and shot 41 percent from 3-point range.

'I feel very good about her experience as a former player for the University and her ambassadorship in the community,' Smith said. 'Her background is what we were looking for. She will be an excellent addition to our staff.'

A native of Adelaide, Australia, she earned her bachelor's degree in business administration from Oregon in 2000. Ruckwardt, 27, was a student teacher in math this past year at Cal Young Middle School in Eugene.

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