Paul Thomas Accepts D-1 Coaching Job in Northern California

Paul Thomas Accepts D-1 Coaching Job in Northern California
In 2001, Head Coach Paul Thomas high-fives his players during the banner ceremony before a game against Azusa Pacific.
From left, Christy Gardner, Brandi Fletcher and Lauri McIntosh with Coach Paul Thomas in 2002.

Paul Thomas, who guided Cal Poly Pomona's women's basketball program to a pair of national championships and 235 wins over an outstanding 12-year career, has been named the new head coach at Division-I St. Mary's College.

Thomas, who spent four years as an assistant coach under legendary coach Darlene May before succeeding May in 1994, was at Cal Poly Pomona for a total of 16 years. He led the Broncos to national championships in 2001 and 2002 and was named the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in 2002. His overall record at Cal Poly Pomona was 235-108 with two national titles, five conference championships and eight trips to the NCAA Division II playoffs.

His playoff record was sensational. He was 14-6 overall, including a 12-2 mark in Cal Poly Pomona's last four trips to the NCAA playoffs.

“Leaving Cal Poly Pomona is one the most difficult decisions that my family and I have had to make,” Thomas said. “I really enjoyed the family atmosphere we have maintained in the women's basketball program. I would like to thank both former President Suzuki and current president Ortiz for the many opportunities they afforded me at Cal Poly Pomona. I also want to extend my appreciation to everyone in the athletic department for making my stay at Cal Poly Pomona an enjoyable one.”

Thomas' lead assistant, Tasha Burnett, who was a guard on Cal Poly Pomona's national championship team in 2001, is also headed for St. Mary's College. Burnett was an assistant coach at Cal Poly Pomona for four years.

“I'm excited to move on to St. Mary's College as the women's basketball coach,” Thomas said. “I'm going to work my hardest to make St. Mary's College a consistent contender in the West Coast Conference and the NCAA tournament.”

Cal Poly Pomona women's basketball program has won more NCAA Division II postseason games (48) than any other university and is coming off a rare losing season, only the third in the program's history.

“Paul Thomas did anoutstanding job during his tenure at Cal Poly Pomona. He exemplified the ideals and image of intercollegiate athletics and Cal Poly Pomona,” Cal Poly Pomona Director of Athletics Brian Swanson said. “He has been a trusted and well-respected member of the university family. I wish him and his family all the very best in his new position.”

Cal Poly Pomona has enjoyed unparalleled success in women's basketball at the Division II level. Coach May got the ball rolling for the program in 1974 and compiled a 519-119 record with three national titles in her remarkable 20-year career. Thomas, an assistant to May for four years, carried on the tradition with a 235-108 record over his 12-year head coaching career.

Combined, the two coaches led Cal Poly Pomona to an overall record of 754-227 with five national titles (tied for the most in Division II with North Dakota State), 48 postseason wins (first among all Division II programs), eight championship game appearances, 27 postseason appearances in 32 years, six national Players of the Year, 37 All-America awards, 18 CCAA titles, 23 conference titles overall and 16 conference Player of the Year awards.

A national search for a new head coach at Cal Poly Pomona will begin immediately, Swanson said.