April 20 - BETHANY, W. Va. –Bethany College Director of Athletics Brian Rose announced the hiring of Brian Sansom as the head coach of the Bison women’s basketball program Monday afternoon. Sansom, who most recently served as an assistant at Division I Farleigh Dickinson University, becomes the tenth coach in program history.
“Brian quickly rose to the top of a talented candidate pool,” said Rose. “He has experience at three different schools where he has shown first and foremost an ability to create strong relationships, not only with his players, but with people across campus. His knowledge of the game is outstanding, his passion for teaching the game and for recruiting high-quality student-athletes is unrivaled and when he came to campus, his positive and infectious energy won over everyone he met, in particular his future players.
“We are thrilled to have Brian joining us at Bethany College and can’t wait for him to arrive on campus and start working with our program.”
Sansom comes to Bethany after serving one season as an assistant with the Knights, a Division I member of the Northeast Conference. During his time with FDU, Sansom helped the Knights to the quarterfinals of the NEC Championship Tournament, where the team fell to eventual conference champion and NCAA Tournament qualifier, Robert Morris University.
Along with the NEC Tournament trip, Sansom also helped coach three All-NEC selections, including first-team honoree Erika Livermore, second-team selection Kelsey Cruz and NEC All-Rookie Team honoree Madelynn Comly.
Prior to his time at Farleigh Dickinson, Sansom spent four seasons at Division III Montclair State University, where he helped the Red Hawks become a power house in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
During his time with the Red Hawks, 2011-12 through 2014-15, Sansom assisted in Montclair State posting a total record of 107-14, including a 58-6 mark in conference play. In 121 total games, the Red Hawks posted a winning percentage of .884 with Sansom serving as an assistant to head coach Karin Harvey.
“Brian was an instrumental part to our success at Montclair State,” stated Harvey. “He was vital to our recruiting efforts during his four years with us, and proved his ability to build relationships, not only with the players, but with the campus community as a whole.”
Throughout his four years at Montclair, the Red Hawks won three NJAC titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament “Sweet 16”, “Elite 8” and “Final Four” in consecutive seasons. In 2015, Montclair finished third in the Nation, defeating Tufts University, 56-48, in the consolation game.
Also showing the ability to get the most out of his players, Sansom coached 12 All-NJAC selections, including seven first-team honorees. He also helped his athletes to eight D3Hoops.com All-Region picks, as well as four D3Hoops.com and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-American selections.
One of the top players in Montclair State history played all four years under the tutelage of Sansom. Melissa Tobie was a three-time NJAC Player of the Year, recorded over 2,000 career points while also tallying 1,000 career rebounds. In four seasons with Sansom, Tobie was a three-time All-American selection, as well as being named a Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree.
“I would like to thank everyone that had an impact on getting me to the position that I am in today,” commented Sansom. “Coach Harvey has been the biggest mentor for me throughout my career as an assistant coach. I not only learned the X’s and O’s from her, but she also taught me how to turn young athletes into leaders of the community, which is something I look forward to implementing at Bethany.”
Sansom’s coaching career began at his alma mater Pitt-Bradford, where he graduated from in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Sport and Recreation Management. He spent three full seasons as an assistant coach at Bradford and would later serve as an interim head coach for a season with the women’s team and led the program to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) Tournament Championship game in 2010 before moving on to Montclair State.
Coach Sansom takes over a Bison squad that returns six letterwinners to the floor for the 2016-17 campaign, including all-conference honorees, senior Hayley Holenka (Shadyside, Ohio) and junior Kelsea Daugherty (Newport, Ohio/Frontier).
“I am really excited for the returning pieces that we have heading into next season,” commented Sansom of the Bison. “Any time you can return a pair of all-conference performers, it is a great benefit. We have a lot of solid pieces in place, and now it’s all about making the puzzle fit together.
“My plan for Bethany is to put together a team that is going to strive to be the best that we can be; whether it be in the community, in the classroom, or on the court, we are going to aim to improve every single day.”
Since the program’s inception, the Bethany women’s basketball team has captured six Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championships, a feat that has not been lost on Coach Sansom.
“I am looking forward to being a part of the rich tradition of not only Bison women’s basketball, but the Presidents’ Athletic Conference as well,” stated Sansom. “Having grown up in Grove City (Pennsylvania), I am fully aware of the history of the PAC and the basketball success that Bethany has had. I relish the opportunity to add to that tradition.”
When asked about why he selected to take the helm of the Bison, Coach Sansom responded; “Having a chance to get to spend a day on campus and talk with many different people around Bethany, it is obvious that there is a true passion from the employees here and a tradition that people are really excited about.
“Bethany feels like its own community, and the cohesiveness of the campus is something that I am particularly happy to be a part of. I would like to thank (President) Dr. (Tamara Nichols) Rodenberg, Brian Rose and the entire search committee for taking the time to instill in me the passion that they have for the campus, as well as teaching me more about what it means to be a Bison. I am honored to get a chance to be a part of this historic institution.”