Daniel steps down as A-State head coach

Matt Daniel talks to freshman forward Kiayra Ellis during Arkansas State’s Nov. 23 game against Ozarks. Daniel has resigned as ASU’s head women’s basketball coach effective immediately, the university announced late Monday night.

JONESBORO — Matt Daniel’s tenure as Arkansas State’s head women’s basketball coach ended abruptly when his resignation was announced late Monday night by the university.

No reason beyond his family’s best interest was given for Daniel’s resignation, which was effective immediately according to a news release distributed around 10:30 p.m. Athletic director Tom Bowen announced associate head coach Destinee Rogers as the program’s interim head coach on Tuesday morning.

Daniel, a Jonesboro native, was in the third season of a four-year contract that was scheduled to run through April 1, 2023. He finished with a 24-37 record in 61 games, the shortest tenure of any of the program’s seven all-time head coaches.

In ASU’s news release, Daniel specifically thanked chancellor Kelly Damphousse and system president Chuck Welch for the opportunity to serve as the Red Wolves’ head coach. The university’s athletic director at the time of Daniel’s hire was Terry Mohajir, who left in February to become Central Florida’s athletic director.

“I love A-State and NEA, and I’m proud to call Jonesboro my hometown,” Daniel said in ASU’s announcement. “Personally, I believe it is in my and my family’s best interest that I step aside and allow the athletics administration to get their coach in place.”

Daniel, who did not answer a phone call Tuesday, declined further comment on his situation via text message. “Thanks for reaching out. I don’t have much to say on it,” he wrote.

Earlier Monday, Daniel participated in the Sun Belt Conference’s online availability for men’s and women’s basketball coaches, answering questions about his program and Sun Belt women’s basketball. He provided comments about Tuesday’s home game against Mississippi Valley State via text message and joined players and fans for “Pizza With The Pack” at a local restaurant Monday night.

A brief letter of resignation, sent by Daniel to Bowen and Damphousse on Monday at 8:46 p.m., did not elaborate on the reasons for his departure.

“Please let this email serve as my letter of resignation. I would prefer to have the upcoming weeks before Christmas to gather my effects and turn in all I need to turn in,” Daniel wrote. “If possible, I would like to have December 25 as the official date to turn off access. I will move as quickly as possible.”

Bowen said Daniel indicated in a meeting Monday night that he felt resigning was in his and his family’s best interest. The coach did not indicate he might resign in previous conversations, Bowen said.

“I communicated to him that we wanted him to reconsider, remain our head coach and be a part of this program,” Bowen said Tuesday in an email to The Jonesboro Sun. “Following our discussion, he still felt this was the right time for him to resign. We will respect his decision, and we wish him well in the future.”

Bowen described his discussion with Daniel as mutually respectful, adding that he was determined to get the coach to reconsider his decision.

“Without going into details, I told him I thought the best thing for the program, his players, his coaches, his support staff and for him as a coach was to remain as head coach,” Bowen said.

Daniel’s annual salary from all sources was $200,000, according to the letter of agreement signed in March 2019. Bowen said he did not anticipate any financial implications of the resignation unless Daniel announces that he is taking another coaching position, as specified in his contract.

2021-22 was Daniel’s 12th overall season as a college head coach, including stops at Central Arkansas and Marshall. He is 82-110 as a head coach.

ASU carried a four-game losing streak and a 4-6 record into Tuesday night’s game against MVSU. The Red Wolves have another home game Sunday against Hendrix and a Dec. 22 game at SIU-Edwardsville before opening Sun Belt play Dec. 30 at Georgia Southern.

Bowen said he met with the team Monday night.

“I wanted to make sure they understood they have the full support of my administration, our university and their coaching staff still in place,” Bowen said. “I felt that they had a positive and engaging response to the message.”

Rogers played for Daniel at UCA, where she was a three-year starter and helped the Sugar Bears make two postseason appearances.

When Daniel hired Rogers for his ASU coaching staff, he said she was the first player he signed as a head coach. She joined the Red Wolves’ coaching staff in 2019-20 as an assistant coach and became the team’s associate head coach before the 2020-21 season.

“While I am excited for the opportunity, this moment is not about me,” Rogers said in ASU’s announcement.

“This moment is about being the very best that myself and our staff can be for the 13 wonderful young ladies on this team. We will work diligently towards doing what we think is right and what is best to lead this team to success.”

Rogers served as a graduate assistant and assistant coach at UCA from 2012-16. In three seasons as head coach at El Dorado High School, 2016-19, she led the team to a 52-28 record.

“Destinee Rogers is obviously extremely familiar with our program and has developed outstanding relationships with our student-athletes as a valuable member of our women’s basketball coaching staff the last three seasons,” Bowen said via press release.

“We are thankful to have someone with her experience, leadership abilities and coaching skills to serve as our interim head coach. With over half of our schedule yet to be played, including the entire Sun Belt Conference portion, we are excited to see this team continue their season under her leadership.”

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