RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University Athletics Hall of Fame member, and former women’s basketball standout, Chrissy Roberts has been selected as the program’s eighth head coach, EKU Director of Athletics Mark Sandy announced today. As a student-athlete, Roberts led Eastern to its first-ever Ohio Valley Conference tournament championship and first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. She later served two stints as an assistant at her alma mater before spending the last six seasons as an assistant at East Carolina University.
Roberts replaces Larry Joe Inman who announced his retirement in April after 20 years at the helm of the program.
“I am truly honored to be selected as the next head coach at Eastern Kentucky University,” Roberts said. “I want to thank both (Director of Athletics) Mark Sandy and President Whitlock for giving me the opportunity to build on the tradition of this program. EKU and this basketball program have always held a special place close to my heart. To return to such a great place that means so much to me, a place that I call home, is truly a blessing. I am looking forward to the road ahead and to providing these student-athletes with the same opportunities I had to experience success. The Colonel fans are great and I cannot wait to start sharing with them the fun and excitement that this program will bring.”
The Eminence, Ky., native’s Hall of Fame playing career began when she wore maroon and white for the first time, as a junior, in 1996. After transferring from the University of Kentucky, Roberts made an immediate impact at EKU. She averaged 13.4 points, and led the nation with a 48.8 three-point shooting percentage in 1996-97. She helped the Lady Colonels roll to a 24-6 record, claim the OVC regular-season championship with a 16-2 mark, win the school’s first-ever conference tournament title, and advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time.
“During our search, we talked with several outstanding candidates,” Director of Athletics Mark Sandy said. “Chrissy Roberts has all of the qualities and attributes that we were looking for in our next women’s basketball head coach. She was an excellent player and leader as an EKU student-athlete and has an excellent reputation as a recruiter. Most importantly, she is a person of integrity. I am confident she will carry on the rich tradition of our women’s basketball program and take us to even loftier heights.”
Roberts scored 18 points in Eastern Kentucky’s first NCAA tournament game, against second seeded Georgia on March 14, 1997.
Following her junior season Roberts won two national awards for her three-point shooting. She was honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with the Edward S. Steitz Award. For this honor, her shoes, jersey and practice gear were enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. She also won the AT&T Long Distance Award.
“All of us look forward to the return of Chrissy Roberts to the EKU women’s basketball family,” EKU President Dr. Doug Whitlock said. “We remember her contribution to the program as a player and have been proud of her rise as one of the promising young coaches in America. Our AD, Mark Sandy, has conducted a thorough search for Coach Inman’s successor and I believe time will prove that he has made a wise choice. I am sure that all Colonel fans will join me in welcoming Coach Roberts home.”
During the 1997-98 season, her senior campaign, Roberts averaged a team-high 15.2 points per game, shot 48.6 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from three-point range. She selected as the OVC Player of the Year and earned first team all-conference honors for the second straight season. She helped the Lady Colonels (20-8, 15-3 OVC) to their second straight OVC regular-season title.
On her way to earning OVC Player of the Year honors, Roberts ranked in the top-10 in the OVC in nine different categories. She led the league in free throw percentage, three-point field goal percentage, three-pointers made and minutes played. She finished second in scoring, and fifth in assists and steals.
Roberts holds school records for three-pointers in a single season (84 in 1996-97) and career three-point field goal percentage (47.5). She is fifth on Eastern’s career three-pointers made list (151).
Roberts was inducted into the EKU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.
In 2002, Roberts joined the staff at East Carolina where she served as the program’s recruiting coordinator and worked closely with the team’s guards. In her first five seasons at ECU, the Lady Pirates finished higher than predicted each season.
Roberts capped her first season by helping East Carolina to its first-ever Conference USA tournament appearance. A year later, the Lady Pirates finished 14-14 overall, the program’s first non-losing season since 2000-01 and only the fourth non-losing season in 11 seasons.
With Roberts’ help, ECU returned to the C-USA tournament in 2004 and 2005. During the 2005-06 season, East Carolina went 17-12 and finished with an 8-8 conference mark, its best-ever up to that time. The Lady Pirates capped the season with the first C-USA tournament game victory in program history.
The rebuilding process at East Carolina culminated in 2007. The Lady Pirates went 19-14 overall and finished third in C-USA with an 11-5 mark. ECU went on to capture its first C-USA tournament championship and earn the program’s first NCAA tournament berth in 25 years. The trip to the Big Dance was only the second in school history.
At ECU, Roberts coached three 1,000-point scorers, 10 all-conference selections, the 2006 C-USA Freshman of the Year, the 2007 tournament MVP, two C-USA All-Defensive team selections and five C-USA Players of the Week.
She also coached two of the most prolific guards in school history. With Roberts’ help, Jennifer Jackson earned all-conference honors three times, and set an ECU single-season record for three-point field goals made and attempted. Jackson finished her career with the fifth most points, second best free throw percentage and second most three-pointers made in program history. Jasmine Young, with another season of eligibility remaining, already ranks second in school history in assists, fourth in three-pointers made and steals, and ninth with 1,244 career points. She is a three-time all-conference performer and the 2006 conference freshman of the year.
After her collegiate playing career ended Roberts jumped right into coaching. She served as a graduate assistant at EKU for the 1998-99 season and then moved to a full-time assistant position at Tennessee Tech University for one season. While Roberts was at Tech, the Golden Eagles finished with a 24-9 record, a 16-2 mark in OVC play, won the regular-season conference championship, the OVC tournament title and made a trip to the NCAA tournament. The OVC tournament banner with Roberts on the coaching staff in 2000 is the last for Tennessee Tech.
Roberts left TTU to return for a second stint as an assistant to Larry Joe Inman at her alma mater. In two seasons, she helped the Lady Colonels to a 45-14 record and a 27-5 mark against OVC teams. EKU finished second in the conference in 2000-01 and shared the regular-season conference championship in 2001-02. Under Roberts’ guidance the Lady Colonels led the nation in scoring in 2001, averaging 88.4 points per game. EKU capped the 2002 season by earning the first postseason victory in program history, beating Missouri State to advance to the Sweet 16 in the WNIT.
In three seasons as an assistant coach in the OVC, Roberts coached seven all-conference honorees, two all-freshman team selections, four all-tournament team selections, a tournament MVP and an OVC Player of the Year.
In Roberts’ five seasons at Eastern Kentucky, two as a player and three as an assistant coach, the Lady Colonels were 100-44 (.694) overall and 66-20 (.767) against conference teams. During that same time, EKU won three regular-season championships, an OVC tournament title and made two postseason appearances.
As a player and a coach, Roberts has participated in three NCAA tournament games and two WNIT contests.
Roberts becomes one of four former Ohio Valley Conference women’s basketball players currently coaching at their alma mater. She joins Carrie Daniels (Austin Peay), Tara Tansil (UT Martin) and Tracee Wells (Tennessee State). Roberts, Daniels and Wells each won OVC championships as student-athletes.
In 1998 Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in sports supervision from Eastern Kentucky. She earned a master’s degree in sport administration in 1999.
In high school, Roberts was a first team all-state selection and a National High School Athletic Coaches Association All-American her senior season at Eminence High School. She capped her prep career by being selected to play in the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star game.