July 2, 2007

EWU Volleyball Coach Accepts Position with Auburn of the Southeastern Conference

July 2, 2007

Wade Benson has resigned from his position of head volleyball coach at Eastern Washington University, effective July 22, as he has accepted an offer to become the top assistant on the Auburn University coaching staff. A search for Benson's replacement will begin immediately.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure at Eastern Washington," Benson said. "I appreciate the opportunities that the university has given me. I have made a lot of great life-long friends and am absolutely sad to leave the area, but the opportunity is a good one at Auburn University.

"I wish nothing but the best for Eastern Washington volleyball. We have worked hard to build a program that has national and regional respect, and I believe that it will continue to go forward."

In Benson's seven years as head coach of the Eagles, he led the team to appearances in every Big Sky Conference championship match and top-three finishes in the final regular-season standings. The 2002, 2003 and 2004 team won regular-season titles, while the 2001 squad claimed the tournament crown.

Benson was named Big Sky Coach of the Year in 2006 and in 2002.

"Wade Benson has been an outstanding member of the Eastern Washington University community as well as a tremendous coach and mentor to the young women on the volleyball team," interim athletic director Mike Westfall said. "While we are sad to say goodbye to a coach who has instilled a winning attitude on and off the court, the University would also like to wish him the best success, as he takes advantage of an exceptional career opportunity."

His 2006 squad rallied from 7-7 and 0-5 overall and Big Sky starts, respectively, to finish the season on a 13-2 run. Both of those losses came to Big Sky champion Sacramento State, in five games at home and in four in the league championship match in Sacramento.

The 2002 team would earn the highest winning percentage ever recorded by a Big Sky team, .935 (29-2). That squad also became the highest-ranked BSC school ever, reaching as high as 15th in the USA Today/AVCA Division I Top 25, doing so on four occasions.

In 2001, the Eagles won an NCAA Tournament match for the first time in school history, defeating Oregon State in a five-game thriller.

Including a 42-7 season at Western Oregon in 1995, Benson has compiled a career 196-62 record as head coach. His BSC record was 78-24. He also acted as assistant coach at EWU from 1997-99 under Pam Parks, the current associate athletics director/senior woman administrator.

Six of Benson's teams have received the Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Award, signifying excellence in the classroom as a team. In order to qualify, squads need to maintain at least a 3.30 grade point average.

Eastern has put up tremendous attendance numbers in Benson's time as head coach, as the team has placed in the top 30 nationally each season. Benson is also the club director and head coach of the Spokane Splash Volleyball Club. His U18 AAU squad won the national championship in Orlando on June 20.

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