MACON -- Brenda Welch-Nichols has been named the new head women's basketball coach at Mercer University.
Coach Welch Nichols with Bobby Pope
The announcement was made by Athletics Director Bobby Pope at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Welch-Nichols, who served as an assistant coach at the University of South Alabama this past season, replaces Sharon Baldwin, who announced her resignation Monday.Baldwin accepted the head coaching job at East Carolina University.
Pope said the quick decision was an easy one. "Brenda was a finalist for the job last year," he said. "When Sharon informed me she was taking the East Carolina position, I contacted Brenda to see if she still had an interest in our coaching position. She did, and accepted the offer to come to Mercer. She has a reputation for being an outstanding recruiter and promoter as well as an excellent 'on-the-floor' coach. I am confident she will keep the women's program going in the right direction. We need to sign several more players for next year's team, and I felt that getting a new coach in place as quickly as possible was imperative. We were fortunate Brenda was available.
"Our men's coach, Mark Slonaker, is familiar with Brenda from his time at Pensacola Junior College, where both coached. Coach Slonaker highly recommended her for the position," Pope said.
The new Mercer coach has an impressive resume. In addition to working at South Alabama, she was an assistant at the University of Memphis for two seasons. Prior to that, she served as the head coach at Okaloosa Walton Community College in Florida for three years where she compiled a 63-27 record in the difficult Panhandle Conference. The Panhandle is considered by most basketball experts to be the best women's junior college league in the country.
Welch-Nichols also has head coaching experience for two seasons at Western Texas College. She also worked as an assistant at Pensacola Junior College from 1990-94 where she helped the Pirates to a 90-30 record.
As a player, she was an NJCAA All-American at Western Texas before transferring to Sam Houston State. She finished her college career there averaging better than 19 points as a senior.
The Jennings, La., native is married to Barry Nichols and they have two sons, Brady, 9, and Brock, 1.