Stephanie McCormick

Stephanie McCormick, who twice served stints as an assistant coach at Western Carolina, is the school’s new head women’s basketball coach.

Athletic Director Randy Eaton announced Friday that McCormick had been named to the position. She replaces Karen Middleton, who was fired after going 63-121 in six seasons.

McCormick has 20 years of NCAA Division I coaching experience.

“I am excited that Stephanie has accepted our offer to rejoin the Catamount family,” Eaton said. “Stephanie’s previous experience at WCU, her extensive relationships with coaches in our region, and her overall desire to come home made her the perfect candidate to lead our women’s basketball program.

“During the past week, we hosted several highly qualified candidates,” he added. “But it became quite apparent that Stephanie was the person we had been looking for to lead our women’s basketball program. I see nothing but success in the future of Western Carolina women’s hoops under Stephanie’s leadership.”

McCormick has served at five different schools during her career. Her teams made nine postseason appearances with four apiece in both the NCAA Tournament and WNIT. She returns to Cullowhee after spending two years as an assistant coach at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y.

“It is good to be back in Cullowhee,” McCormick said. “I consider it my home away from home. WCU and the athletics department are rapidly moving forward, and I’m excited about being a part of such positive growth. I am honored to be chosen as the next women’s basketball head coach, and I look forward to rebuilding a program the Catamount Nation can be proud of. Catamount athletics and I are a good combination because we share the same values of family and development of the complete student-athlete.”

Prior to taking the position at Siena, McCormick spent nine years serving under Kellie Harper at both WCU (2004-09) and N.C. State (2009-13).

State made three postseason appearances during McCormick’s four seasons and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2010. Harper and her staff were dismissed following the 2012-13 season, and McCormick landed the assistant’s position at Siena.

McCormick began her coaching career at Western from 1994-97 as an assistant to Gary Peters, her college coach at Catawba.

During her second stint at WCU, the team made four postseason appearances in five seasons under Harper. The Lady Cats twice reached the NCAA Tournament after winning the Southern Conference Tournament.

In between her two jobs at Western, McCormick made coaching stops at UNC-Wilmington (1997-2001), Charlotte (2001-03) and Georgia Tech (2003-04). She was associate head coach at UNC-W and recruiting coordinator at Tech and Charlotte.

A native of High Point, McCormick is a 1994 graduate of Catawba. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in business administration and is a member of both the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and Black Coaches Association.

The first player in school history to amass both 1,000 career points and rebounds, she holds Catawba’s school record for career (1,244) and single season rebounds (374). In 2013, she was inducted into the Catawba College Sports Hall of Fame.

“Western Carolina has hired a terrific coach and person in Stephanie McCormick,” said Harper, who is now head coach at Missouri State. “She is intelligent and hard-working, and will bring passion to the program. Because of her previous time in Cullowhee, she has a solid knowledge of the university and the community. I am excited for her and the Catamounts.”

“Stephanie McCormick will do a tremendous job leading and reviving the Western Carolina women’s basketball program,” said Siena Coach Ali Jaques. “Our program will certainly miss her consistency, professionalism, mentorship and kind nature. The players at Western Carolina will realize quickly how much Coach Mac loves basketball and cares about people. All of her hard work as an assistant over the years has paid off, and I for one will be cheering for her and her program’s future success.”