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SW Missouri Coach Burnett Resigns

April 23, 2002

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) _ Cheryl Burnett, the winningest coach in the history of Southwest Missouri State women’s basketball program, resigned Monday after 15 seasons.

Burnett, who had a career record of 319-136 and led the Lady Bears to two Final Four appearances, said she plans to look for another job.

``I have no jobs and no interviews at this time. I’m stepping out on faith,″ she said.

Burnett coached WNBA rookie of the year Jackie Stiles as she set the NCAA career scoring record, leading the Lady Bears to the 2001 Final Four.

Southwest Missouri finished 16-13 last season and made its first appearance in the Women’s NIT. Burnett went to Southwest Missouri after two years as assistant coach at Illinois.

Burnett said she decided last Wednesday that she would leave Southwest Missouri, then told her family on Sunday and the team on Monday.

``It was a decision made on principles and prayer and it was a professional decision,″ she said. ``This past year has been a year of blessings with a wonderful group of young women. Coaching is what I love and continues to be my passion. I’ve always thought I’d leave SMS for a job at another university.″

A native of Centralia, Mo., Burnett played basketball at Kansas, where she was a four-year starter. She was also the first woman to receive a full athletic scholarship at Kansas and was named to the Big Eight Conference all-tournament squad in 1977.

Athletics director Bill Rowe said a national search would begin immediately to find Burnett’s replacement.

``We hope for nothing but the best for Cheryl, and we will be anxiously watching to see where she goes following the decision she has announced today,″ Rowe said.

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