Meg Sanders Joins Women's Basketball Staff

May 2, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - Northern Arizona University head coach Meg Sanders has joined the Arizona State women's basketball staff as associate head coach, Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne announced Friday.

Sanders comes to ASU after spending the last seven seasons as the head women's basketball coach at NAU where she was the all-time winningest coach in school history. At ASU, she will rejoin Turner Thorne's coaching staff after spending three seasons on the bench with the Sun Devil mentor when Turner Thorne was the Lumberjacks' head coach (1993-96). Sanders replaces assistant coach Kim Gervasoni who left ASU in late April to become the head women's basketball coach at the University of Nevada.

'Meg is the total package as a coach, and I am very excited to have her join our staff,' Turner Thorne said. 'We want to get to the NCAA Final Four and win a national championship at Arizona State, and I think it is an incredible statement for a successful head coach at the Division I level to step down for a chance to be a part of winning a national championship. Meg is the next piece in reaching our goals, and I know that we will all accomplish some amazing things together.'

'It is tough to leave NAU and Flagstaff, but I'm excited for what is ahead,' Sanders said. 'Charli is an outstanding person to work with and an excellent coach. She has a great staff and has done a phenomenal job with the ASU program, and I'm ready to help the Sun Devils move to even higher levels of national success.'

In her seven years as the head coach at NAU, Sanders turned in a 107-92 record and led the Lumberjacks to three of the four best seasons in the program's history (22-6 in 1997-98, 17-11 in 1996-97 and 17-11 in 2001-02). In 1997-98, she became the first coach to lead NAU to a 20-win season, the first to win a conference title, the first to be named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year and the first to defeat the University of Montana (after 23 NAU losses). The team also clinched NAU's first regular-season conference title (15-1, shared with Montana) that year.

Sanders led Northern Arizona to the Big Sky Tournament every year of her tenure, while her Lumberjack squads have been among the nation's best defensive teams, leading the Big Sky in blocked shots in each of the last three seasons and ranking among the nation's best teams in field goal percentage defense during that span. She also coached eight All-Big Sky Conference selections and 18 academic all-league honorees in her seven years.

Sanders began a 10-year NAU career in 1993 as an assistant under Turner Thorne where they inherited a program that had turned in a 10-70 record in the previous three years, including a 2-24 record the season before, and had lost its last 39 Big Sky games. In their three seasons together, Turner Thorne and her staff turned around the Lumberjack program and produced the team's first winning seasons in nine years and the first back-to-back winning years in the program's history. Turner Thorne took the ASU job in the summer of 1996, and Sanders was elevated to head coach of the Lumberjacks.

Sanders came to Northern Arizona after four years as an assistant at Fresno State for Bob Spencer, the first women's coach to win 500 games. During her first year, the 1989-90 Bulldogs reached the National Women's Invitation Tournament.

A member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic handball team, Sanders enjoyed her first national coaching experience as handball team coach for the West squad at the 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival.

The former Meg Gallagher prepped at Poly High in Riverside, Calif., where she was a teammate of eventual Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller. She went on to play at Cal State Fullerton for current USC head coach Chris Gobrecht, where she earned a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1985. She added a master's degree in physical education from Fresno State in 1991.

Sanders and her husband, Mark, have two children, a son, Ryan, 7, and a daughter, Naomi, 2.

'I look forward to working with the elite student-athletes, the coaching staff and the entire athletic department at Arizona State,' Sanders said. 'This is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Pac-10 Conference, Sun Devil athletics and the university as a whole. ASU has so many resources to offer to anyone who is working or going to school there, and I am looking forward to being a part of a special place.'

'I have a tremendous amount of respect for Meg,' Turner Thorne said. 'She has one of the best basketball minds in the country and really studies the game, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. Meg is an exceptional teacher and will be a perfect fit for the talented players we have in our program.'

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