Paul Sanderford

Former Western Kentucky women’s basketball coach Paul Sanderford, who led the program to three NCAA Final Fours, has been named as one of 12 finalists for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Sanderford coached at WKU from 1982-83 through the 1996-97 seasons.

Former Western Kentucky women’s basketball coach Paul Sanderford was announced as one of 12 finalists for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 on Thursday.

Sanderford coached WKU from 1982-83 until 1996-97, where he recorded 365 of his 616 wins in his 26-year career as a head coach at WKU, Nebraska and Louisburg College. He had a 453-189 record as a Division I coach.

He recorded 13 20-plus win seasons at WKU, including a school-record 32-win season in 1985-86, and led the Lady Toppers to 12 NCAA Tournaments. He coached WKU to its three Final Four appearances in 1985, 1986 and 1992. The 1992 team finished as the national runner-up. Sanderford’s WKU teams made the Sweet Sixteen four times, claimed five Sun Belt Conference regular-season titles and seven conference tournament titles. He was the conference Coach of the Year three times (1982-83, 1985-86 and 1990-91).

Sanderford had an 88-69 record in five years at Nebraska and ranks as the second-winningest coach in program history. He coached the team to the NCAA Tournament in 1998, 1999 and 2000 – the first time the program had made the tournament three consecutive years. He was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1998-99.

He returned to WKU from 2003-07 as an assistant under Darrin Horn on the men’s team. The Hilltoppers recorded three straight 20-win seasons and a Sun Belt East Division championship in 2006-07 before retiring.

Prior to his time at WKU, Sanderford was the head coach at Louisburg College in North Carolina. He was 163-19 in his six years as head coach of the program, was named the Region X Coach of the Year for four consecutive years and was the named the Outstanding Coach at the National Tournament in 1981, the year he took his team to the title. In 1981-82, he was awarded the Wade Trophy, given annually to the national Junior College Coach of the Year.

Sanderford was part of the 2008 WKU Athletic Hall of Fame induction class and on Feb. 6, 2010, was honored with a jersey in the rafters of E.A. Diddle Arena.

He was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Louisburg College Hall of Fame in 2010. He was inducted in the Methodist College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.

Sanderford was a finalist for the WBHOF Class of 2019.

The other 11 finalists for the WBHOF Class of 2020 are Debbie Brock (veteran player), Doug Bruno (coach), Carol Callan (contributor), Swin Cash-Canal (player), Tamika Catchings (player), Sue Donohoe (contributor), Lauren Jackson (international player), Lucille Kyvallos (veteran coach), Lisa Mattingly (official), Bob Schneider (coach) and Carol Stiff (contributor). The WBHOF also announced the 1980 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team as the 2020 “Trailblazers of the Game” recipient, given to teams or organizations for their contributions to women’s basketball.

The Class of 2020 will be announced on Feb. 10 during the ESPN2 broadcast of the game between Connecticut and South Carolina, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. CST. The Class of 2020 induction will take place on June 13 in Knoxville.

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.

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