Board of Directors
Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach
University of Notre Dame
One of the nation’s premier coaches, Carol Owens is in her 19th year on the Notre Dame women’s basketball coaching staff for the 2018-19 season, and her 10th as associate head coach for the Fighting Irish, having originally been elevated to that position by head coach Muffet McGraw prior to the 2002-03 season (holding that role through the 2004-05 campaign), and then again in the summer of 2012.
Throughout her tenure at Notre Dame, Owens has focused on working with the Fighting Irish post players, while also assisting with the program’s nationally-ranked recruiting efforts (Notre Dame has attracted 22 consecutive top-20 recruiting classes from 1997-2018 something only two other schools achieved).
During her 18-year combined stint at Notre Dame (first from 1995-2005, then again since 2010-11), Owens has played an important role in the Fighting Irish’s rise to national prominence. As the senior member of the program’s assistant coaching staff, Notre Dame has posted a 527-102 (.838), averaging over 29 victories per season in her tenure.
More notably, the Fighting Irish have won two national titles, with the first coming in 2001, followed by the second in 2018. In addition, Notre Dame has appeared in six NCAA title games and have reached the Final Four eight times (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018) – which ranks fifth most of any school.
Throughout her career at Notre Dame, Owens has had the magic touch when it comes to developing elite post players, with no fewer than six of her pupils (Natalie Achonwa, Jacqueline Batteast, Katryna Gaither, Ruth Riley, Brianna Turner and Devereaux Peters) earning a combined 33 All-America honors during their college careers. Four of her post protegees went on be drafted into the WNBA – Riley, Peters and Batteast all went on to claim WNBA titles.
Owens also has consistently appeared on lists of the nation’s top assistant coaches. In 2014, she was chosen as the inaugural recipient of the A Step Up Assistant Coach of the Year Award, presented by Felicia Hall Allen & Associates. In 2001, she was named one of the top five assistant coaches in the country by Women’s Basketball Journal, and in 2011, CollegeInsider.com named her as one of the top 15 active assistants in the nation.
Between her lengthy coaching runs at Notre Dame, Owens spent five seasons (2005-10) as head coach at her alma mater, Northern Illinois University. During her time in DeKalb, Owens’ teams showed exceptional growth, as she posted a higher career winning percentage (.449) than either of her two predecessors and became only the second coach in the program’s near-half century of existence (first in close to three decades) to register double-digit victories every year she walked the sidelines at Northern Illinois.
Owens’ finest season at NIU came in 2006-07, when she led the Huskies to a 19-12 record, their best mark in 14 years, and the program’s first berth in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals since 2001-02. Two years later in 2008-09, Owens guided Northern Illinois to a 10-6 record in MAC play and a third-place finish in the conference’s West Division, logging the Huskies’ best regular-season league record since 2001-02. In fact, Northern Illinois has recorded 10 MAC wins three times since joining the conference in 1997-98 (including one 10-win campaign under Owens) and peaked with third-place finishes in the MAC West Division on four occasions (twice under Owens).
Her NIU teams were successful in the classroom as well, with the Huskie women’s basketball program boasting a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better every semester under Owens. What’s more, all 12 seniors that completed their careers at Northern Illinois during her tenure earned their degrees.
As if that weren’t enough, Owens appeared on the international coaching scene through her work with USA Basketball. In 2008 and 2009, she served as head coach of the United States U18 and U19 teams, guiding those squads to gold medals at the 2008 FIBA U18 Americas Championships in Argentina, and the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championships in Thailand. In 2008, Owens was named USA Basketball’s Developmental Coach of the Year, and prior to that, she spent two summers (2006-07) as an assistant coach for Team USA, collecting two more gold medals (2006 FIBA U18 Americas; 2007 FIBA U19 Worlds) as an aide under current DePaul head coach (and U.S. Senior National Team assistant coach) Doug Bruno. Owens also coached former Notre Dame point guard Melissa Lechlitner (`10) on that 2007 USA squad that took gold at the U19 World Championships.
For many years, Owens has been an important contributor within the women’s basketball coaching community. In 2008, she was selected to serve on the Board of Directors for both the Black Coaches & Administrators (BCA) and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), serving on the latter body’s Executive Committee as the WBCA secretary before stepping down in 2011 to take a more active role on the BCA Board of Directors. Subsequently, in September 2012, Owens was chosen as BCA president for the 2012-13 academic year, helping that organization through a successful transition period that included the introduction of a new executive director.
Owens originally came to Notre Dame in 1995 following two seasons as an assistant at Michigan, where she began her coaching career after enjoying a three-year professional playing stint in Japan, Spain and Italy.
As a standout player at Northern Illinois from 1985-90 (she missed the `86-87 season with a knee injury), Owens compiled a very impressive resume. A two-time Kodak (now WBCA) Coaches’ All-District IV Team selection (1989 and 1990), Owens scored 2,102 points and averaged 18.0 points per game over four campaigns, covering 117 games. She also captained the Huskies for four seasons and, in her final collegiate campaign (1989-90), she guided Northern Illinois to the best record in school history (26-5), as the Huskies went undefeated in North Star Conference play (12-0) and earned the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.
A native of Chicago, Owens received her bachelor of arts degree in communications from Northern Illinois in 1990. She was selected by the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to serve as Commencement Marshal of her graduating class and was named Northern Illinois’ Outstanding Woman. In addition, Owens was the recipient of the Student Leadership Award.
In 1995, Owens was inducted into the Northern Illinois University Athletic Hall of Fame and followed up that honor with her induction into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Illinois High School Hall of Fame in 2014.