A new era of women’s basketball at Miami has arrived with the hiring of new Head Coach Katie Meier, who has proven before that she can turn a program around in a heartbeat.
After 17 seasons with Ferne Labati at the helm, no one remembers women’s basketball without her, which is part of the reason why so many people were taken aback by her firing.
I got to know Labati and her coaching staff throughout the season, especially while on road trips for WVUM and because of that, I found myself upset at the decision to let her go with one year left on her contract. But as the weeks have gone by and the search ended for a new head coach, I realize that perhaps this is the right way to go.
It’s tough to compare the firings of former men’s coach Perry Clark and Labati because the only similarity I see is that each had a losing season before being fired. Besides that, the similarities lay in the future of these two teams.
One of the main reasons why Frank Haith was hired was his experience with the ACC, since he had been an assistant at Wake Forest and grew up in North Carolina, surrounded by the basketball fever the ACC brings every year.
Athletic Director Paul Dee showed once again that having experience in the ACC will help a coach get hired by bringing in Meier. Meier was one of the best players in Duke history and catapulted the women’s basketball program to where it is today when she played there in the late ’80s.
Meier has what it takes to turn this team around and put it on top of the ACC. We have to remember that this was a team that was in the NCAA tournament a year ago. Meier had a much tougher task when she took over at Charlotte, a program that saw only one post-season berth in its history before she showed up. In her four years as a 49er, she took them to three post-season tournaments, which is not too shabby.
Taking Miami to the post-season may be a lot to ask in her first year, but if Haith did it with the men’s team, why not Meier with the women’s? The Hurricanes have the second leading scorer in the nation coming back in Tamara James and lost only two players to graduation. Not to mention a very impressive recruiting class coming in the Fall plus the return of red-shirt senior Melissa Knight, who missed all of last season with an injury.
This may be Miami’s year to make some noise in the ACC. Give Meier three or four years and we will see a dominant national powerhouse UM.
Douglas C. Kroll can be reached at