University of North Texas

UNT Insider | April 2012 issue | Mike Petersen hired as women's basketball coach

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Mike Petersen hired as women's basketball coach

From a North Texas Athletics press release


Athletic Director Rick Villarreal named Mike Petersen the new head coach of women's basketball.

Athletic Director Rick Villarreal has named Mike Petersen, head coach at Wake Forest University since 2004, the seventh Mean Green women's basketball coach.

Petersen, 53, brings invaluable experience to UNT, Villarreal says. As head coach at Wake Forest, Petersen was the university's all-time winningest coach. He comes to UNT as a coaching veteran with more than 30 years of experience, including three seasons as the head coach at Texas Christian University. In September 2007, he became one of three inductees to the Northwest Christian College inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame.

"As we set out to find a new head coach it was a high priority to find someone with a long history of success and a great knowledge of the game and Mike Petersen definitely brings that," Villarreal says.

Before moving into the coaching ranks, Petersen enjoyed a stellar college playing career. He began at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif. After two seasons, he transferred to Northwest Christian College, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school in Eugene, Ore. In his junior year, Petersen helped the Crusaders to a 22-7 record and the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Conference title. His senior year, he blossomed and was named to the Little All-America team. He finished his career among the top 10 all-time leading scorers in school history in just two full seasons.

Petersen stayed on as an assistant men’s coach at Northwest Christian while he completed his undergraduate work in Biblical studies in 1983. After more than two and a half years with the NCC program, Petersen left for Oregon in the middle of the 1983 season to become an assistant coach for the women’s team. During his season and a half, the Ducks won the NorPac title and earned a National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament berth in 1984.

Petersen began his head coaching career in 1985 when he accepted the head women’s coaching position at Gonzaga University, a position he held until 1989 . During his first season, Petersen led the Zags to a 21-10 record and missed the NAIA National Tournament by a game. After an 11-16 record in their transition year into NCAA Division I, Gonzaga captured the West Coast Conference title in its inaugural season and only their second year at the Division I level. He won 65 games in four seasons at Gonzaga.

He has also been a head coach New Mexico State (1992-96), and TCU (1996-99). Petersen also spent five seasons with the Minnesota men’s basketball team (1999-2004), serving as associate head coach for four seasons. Petersen was involved in every aspect of the Minnesota program, but primarily with individual player development, scheduling, offensive play-calling, opponent scouting and game-planning. He directed an offense that led the Big Ten in scoring and field goal percentage in 2001-02 and was second in scoring offense in 2002-03.

When Petersen took over Wake Forest's program in 2004, it had gone through 12 straight losing seasons. Under his leadership, the program went to a winning record, the WNIT, and the team's first postseason appearance since 1988 in just one season. The Demon Deacons won two games in the WNIT that season, advancing to the third round of the tournament, which remains the best run in school history.

Petersen guided Wake Forest to unprecedented heights in leading the Demon Deacons to the postseason in three of the past four seasons and winning 72 games, which is the best stretch in Wake Forest women’s basketball history. The Demon Deacons won 20 games this past season, which is the second most wins in school history and only the second 20-win season in school history. Wake Forest advanced to the second round of the WNIT for only the second time in school history. The 20-wins at Wake Forest this season are the most for the Demon Deacons since 1987-88.

Under Petersen's leadership, the Demon Deacons also won back-to-back games in the ACC Tournament for the first time in school history and advanced in the ACC Tournament for the fourth straight season, marking the first time Wake Forest has advanced in the postseason tournament four straight years.

A head coaching veteran, Petersen recorded his 300th career coaching win on December 7, 2011. Petersen has the most coaching wins in Wake Forest history with 125.

"He has proven he can win in leagues where it is difficult to win and has earned a great deal of respect among his peers and colleagues," Villarreal says. "He is the right person to move this program forward and we are excited to have him as part of the Mean Green family."

Read more about Petersen's coaching record at

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April 2012

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