March 23, 2022
A new era begins at Oklahoma State
Jacie Hoyt takes over as head coach of Cowgirl basketball
After just five seasons as a head coach at the Division I level, Jacie Hoyt was hired on March 20, 2022, to be the eighth head coach in Oklahoma State women’s basketball history. Hoyt arrives in Stillwater after leading the Kansas City program, where she compiled an overall record of 81-65.
Hoyt, who turns 35 this spring, takes over a Cowgirl basketball program that was 8-19 during the 2021-22 season under the direction of Jim Littell. Littell stepped down as head coach just one year removed from being named 2021 Big 12 Coach of the Year. A string of transfers in recent years and disappointing results this season led the OSU administration to begin a search for a new leader.
“At Oklahoma State, we have a long history of competitive excellence at the highest levels of college athletics as demonstrated by the 52 national championship banners hanging above us here in Gallagher-Iba Arena,” said Athletic Director Chad Weiberg during Hoyt’s introductory press conference. “We are committed to providing the best possible experience for all our student-athletes and that includes the opportunity to earn a life-changing degree. It also includes the opportunity to compete for championships and to be surrounded by the best possible people to lead, coach, teach and mentor them. That commitment is for both men’s and women’s athletics.”
Hoyt, an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks, brings experience to OSU at both the Division II and I level. She was a graduate assistant at Fort Hays State (DII) in Hays, KS, for one year and then spent three seasons as an assistant at Nevada under her former college coach, Jane Albright. She joined Jeff Mittie when he took the reins of the Kansas State program in 2014. As an assistant there for three seasons, Hoyt gained experience in the Big 12 from coaching and recruiting perspectives.
“I was at Kansas State under similar circumstances, where a new coaching staff came in and the program was looking to go in a direction of getting back to a standard that had previously existed but really wasn’t there at the time,” Hoyt shared during her introductory press conference. “I was able to work with an amazing coaching staff there and get that blueprint of how to do it and how to do it in the Big 12 specifically.”
At Kansas City, Hoyt led the program in two different leagues – the WAC and Summit. In 2020, her Roos program captured the WAC regular-season championship, and she was honored as the WAC Coach of the Year as well. Hoyt’s teams have had success since moving to the Summit League in 2020-21 but struggled against the top-tier teams in the league. This past season her team was 12-6 in conference play, finishing third, but four of those losses came to South Dakota (2) and South Dakota State (2). The Roos finished 23-9 overall in 201-22 but played zero Power Five teams in their non-conference schedule.
“When we started our search for the next head coach of Cowgirl basketball, we wanted to find someone who had a vision for what Cowgirl basketball can be. We wanted to find a program builder,” Weiberg said. “We were looking for someone with a great energy that would represent the very best of Oklahoma State throughout women’s college basketball. We wanted a relentless recruiter with experience in identifying and attracting Big 12 caliber talent. We wanted a leader. We found all of that and more in Jacie Hoyt.”
Hoyt’s teams have been known for a fast, up-tempo style of play, including shooting threes and pushing the ball in transition. However, to play fast, she demands her players defend and rebound the basketball. This same style and philosophy are what she will bring to the OSU program. “I am a fierce competitor – I love to win, and I hate to lose,” she declared.
Hoyt made no commitments when asked about her staff, only that she looks to bring them in quickly but will not rush the process. Her staff at Kansas City consisted of assistants who each have been with her for at least three seasons. Shaping a staff with a wide swath of recruiting connections, especially to tap into the transfer portal, seems like an immediate need. Also, heavily recruiting Oklahoma prep talent should be another primary focus in rebuilding this program. Factoring in this season’s success of Oklahoma Sooner women’s basketball, under first-year head coach Jennie Baranczyk, there is stiff competition for that quality in-state talent.
Hoyt was born and raised in Kansas, where her parents are still educators. Her mother, Shelly, is a legendary Kansas high school girl’s basketball coach. As the daughter of a coach, Hoyt grew up a gym rat and became a standout three-sport athlete in high school. She went on to play basketball from 2006-to 2009 at Wichita State, where she started every game at point guard her final two seasons. She has three sisters, including Terran, who served as a graduate assistant on her Kansas City staff. Her husband Daniel Heflin is currently a fundraiser for the University of Kansas athletic department.
“Outside of my faith, the most important thing for me is family. Family to me is something I do not take lightly,” she said. “Those are the people you go through the highs and lows with, the people who are always by your side, the people you will do anything for and that is very important to me. That is the mind-set and culture I want to have as I lead this program – doing it with family. It’s not just me, it’s us.”
With a great deal of emphasis put on her personal family, there seemed to be another message missing from Hoyt’s press conference comments. She did not specifically acknowledge the program’s history or mention the extended Cowgirl basketball family. Weiberg did thank former head coach Littell in his opening remarks, yet historical success and the tragic circumstances that have impacted this program are not going away.
Years of winning under former head coach Dick Halterman laid the foundation for energized fans and culture of toughness within Cowgirl basketball. The loss of four lives in a plane crash in 2011, including then head coach Kurt Budke, impacted so many, including the student-athletes. As the new leader, Hoyt has a responsibility to be a steward of the program and a connection for the past, present and future of OSU women’s basketball.
Known for her passion and energy, Hoyt will need to channel that as she connects with the team, community, and campus to generate excitement for the program. There will be many challenges to come, but Hoyt seems very confident that this is the right place for her.
“I do have a dream job, and it’s right here at Oklahoma State,” she said.
Written by Missy Heidrick
I am a former shooting guard at Kansas State and spent almost 20 years working in Higher Education and Division 1 athletics. I am currently a basketball analyst for television and radio, contributing correspondent at The Next, WBB Naismith Award board of selectors member and run my own consulting business. I am a proud mother of two and wife to a patient husband who is almost as big of a sports junkie as I am!