Kansas basketball: Women’s coach Brandon Schneider facing last chance at redemption

Kansas Jayhawks head coach Brandon Schneider, Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas Jayhawks head coach Brandon Schneider, Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Kansas basketball women’s team is about to embark on their seventh season under head coach Brandon Schneider. It’s been an underwhelming tenure under Schneider, to say the least, and this may be his last shot to prove he belongs in the Big 12.

Schneider owns a coaching record of 57-98 during his time at Kansas. In Big 12 play, he’s just 14-94.

The Big 12 record especially is abysmal and unacceptable.

During his six years at the helm, the Kansas women’s team has finished last in the final Big 12 standings all but once (they finished ninth in 2017-18). They also have zero NCAA Tournament appearances and zero postseason tournament appearances of any kind.

The Kansas women’s program has never been a juggernaut, but under Schneider’s predecessor, Bonnie Henrickson, the Jayhawks at least experienced mild postseason success – making the WNIT Finals in 2009 and back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in 2012 and 2013.

Kansas basketball deserves better for the women’s team, so why is Schneider still around?

Schneider likely would have been let go by now if it weren’t for a few things working in his favor.

First, Schneider was – for some inexplicable reason – awarded an undisclosed two-year contract extension in the spring of 2018 by then-athletic director Sheahon Zenger. It extended his original five-year contract through this upcoming 2021-22 season.

Then Zenger was fired shortly after in May 2018, essentially giving Schneider a grace period for that upcoming season as new athletic director Jeff Long wasn’t hired until July 2018. That timing would have made it too difficult for Long to find a replacement that close to the season.

Schneider caught another break when Long was fired this past March. The Jayhawks had another terrible season, finishing 7-18 overall and 3-15 in Big 12 play.

It certainly wouldn’t have been unwarranted for Kansas to move on at that point, but the transition between Long and now-current athletic director Travis Goff likely saved him once again. Goff also came in laser-focused on hiring a new head football coach and had little time to spread his attention elsewhere.

And with the pandemic causing a big revenue shortfall for Kansas Athletics, it’s unlikely that the money was there to buy out Schneider’s remaining contract.

Schneider had a remarkable run at Division II Emporia State, leading them to a national championship in 2010, and then parlayed that into another successful run at Stephen F. Austin.

But the Big 12 has thus far proven to be too tall of a task for Schneider. The Jayhawks are picked to finish last once again this season, according to a preseason poll voted on by Big 12 coaches.

Maybe the recent additions of assistant coaches Karyla Middlebrook and Morgan Paige, who were brought in to replace former assistants Jhasmin Player and Damitria Buchananto, to his coaching staff will help, but at this point, it will take a pretty remarkable turnaround for Schneider to keep his job.

This season will likely be Schneider’s last chance to prove he belongs at the University of Kansas.

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