High-resolution head shot (300 dpi)
ATLANTA (Jan. 16, 2020) — The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, the professional organization for coaches at all levels of the sport, today announced that Mary Ellen Gillespie will join the association’s staff as deputy director effective March 2.
Gillespie, a former director of athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the University of Hartford, succeeds Shannon Reynolds, who will retire after more than 20 years of service to the organization. Reynolds will remain on staff in an advisory role through Aug. 31.
As deputy director, Gillespie will directly assist WBCA Executive Director Danielle M. Donehew in managing the association’s business and finances, directing the work of the full-time office staff and seasonal interns, and serving as a liaison to the organization’s corporate and strategic partners.
“This hire is a victory for the WBCA and our community of women’s and girls’ basketball coaches,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle M. Donehew. “The association presently enjoys an unprecedented level of strength and respect. The knowledge, expertise and fresh perspective Mary Ellen Gillespie brings to our staff will better ensure the association continues to grow and lead in women’s basketball and the entire athletic industry.“
“I want to thank Danielle Donehew, (WBCA President) Tricia Cullop and the WBCA Board of Directors for their confidence in me to join the WBCA team,” said Gillespie. “I’ve seen firsthand the importance of the WBCA and believe wholeheartedly in its values and mission. Working with coaches and ensuring they have the tools and programs to be successful has always been a passion of mine. I am thrilled to help grow the game, our coaches, our student-athletes and our youth.”
Gillespie served as director of athletics at Hartford from 2017 through 2019, where she oversaw an NCAA Division I athletic program composed of 17 intercollegiate sports, 54 coaches and other staff, and 378 student-athletes. Under her direction, the Hawks women’s basketball team earned a WNIT berth in 2019, its first postseason appearance since 2013.
While at Wisconsin-Green Bay from 2013 through 2017, Gillespie directed a 16-sport intercollegiate athletic program with 56 coaches and other staff, and 240 student-athletes. Over the four years of her direction, the Phoenix won a combined 11 Horizon League championships. The women’s basketball team, meanwhile, earned postseason berths all four seasons — three appearances in the NCAA Tournament and one in the WNIT.
Gillespie served as a member of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee from 2015 through 2017. She also was a member of the NCAA Division I-AAA Board of Directors from 2016 through 2019 and was its president during the 2018-19 academic year.
Before arriving at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Gillespie served from 2006 through 2013 as the associate athletics director at Bowling Green State University. At Bowling Green she was responsible for external relations, directing revenue and image efforts including fundraising, corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, marketing, licensing and merchandising, sports information, and broadcast, print and digital media rights.
“I have been familiar with Mary Ellen Gillespie since she was the associate athletics director at Bowling Green — one of our conference rivals,” said WBCA President Tricia Cullop, who is head women’s basketball coach at Toledo University. “She is a highly respected athletics administrator who is known for cultivating positive relationships with coaches wherever she goes. She will be a tremendous asset to the WBCA as she works to help make our profession and our sport stronger.”
Gillespie raised the bar for academic success at both Hartford and Wisconsin-Green Bay. While at Hartford, the Hawks were awarded the America East Conference Academic Cup with a combined 3.36 student-athlete grade-point average — the highest in America East history, and a conference-high six Hartford teams had perfect academic progress rate (APR) scores. At Wisconsin-Green Bay, student-athletes achieved a record-high GPA of 3.30 and a graduation success rate of 96 percent.
Gillespie is also a strong advocate for continuing education and at Hartford instituted regular meetings of head coaches within the department during which they received training in core values of educational athletics, mental health awareness, diversity and inclusion and parent relations.
A native of Sayville, New York, Gillespie was previously director of development for Purdue University's schools of nursing and health sciences from 2005 through 2006. She was vice president of advancement for the Indianapolis-based North American Interfraternity Conference from 2000 through 2005. This followed experience as an assistant director of student life at the University of Iowa from 1998 through 2000 and as a coordinator in the office of the dean of students at Plattsburgh State University of New York from 1995 through 1998.
Gillespie holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and a master’s in counseling-student affairs practice from SUNY-Plattsburgh. She also has a certificate in fundraising management from the Indiana University Fund Raising School.
# # #
About the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association
Founded in 1981, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association is the professional association for coaches of women's and girls' basketball at all levels of competition. The WBCA offers educational resources that coaches need to help make themselves better leaders, teachers and mentors to their players; provides opportunities for coaches to connect with peers in the profession; serves as the unifying voice of coaches to those organizations that control the game; and celebrates those coaches, players and other individuals who excel each year and contribute to the advancement of the sport. Visit www.WBCA.org for more details about the Association.