The BYU women’s basketball team is officially looking for a new head coach after Jeff Judkins unexpectedly announced his retirement on Thursday. The university said it will immediately begin a national search for his replacement.
But there are at least some coaches already working in the state of Utah that could make sense for BYU. Here are three potential candidates.
Judkins has a cadre of assistant coaches, including Ray Steward and Melanie Day. But Cummard seems like the likeliest candidate to succeed him.
Cummard has been with BYU since 2016 — first as a graduate assistant with the men’s basketball team, then as an assistant coach. He moved to an assistant coach with the women in 2019.
Cummard was chosen as acting head coach while Judkins dealt with a case of COVID-19 early in the 2021-22 season. He led the Cougars to three straight wins in that span.
Cummard is young, and has experience not only playing for Dave Rose, but winning conference championships as well. He’s also played professionally overseas.
This is a name that will come up often. Nielson is currently the women’s coach at Utah Valley University. He’s coached there for three seasons and led the Wolverines to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in his second season at the helm.
What makes Nielson so intriguing is his history with Judkins and BYU. He worked a film coordinator, director of operations and an assistant coach before Judkins made him associate head coach.
Nielson was on the 2014 Cougars staff that went to the Sweet 16. He left BYU in 2019 to lead UVU.
One of Nielson’s assistants, Bailey played at BYU from 2010-15 and won the West Coast Conference Player of the Year award.
Bailey, an Orem native, has also coached at Southern Utah and Snow College.
Bailey would make sense not only from the standpoint of history with Judkins and BYU, but she would also give BYU the opportunity to hire someone from a diverse background.
Per the “Russell Rule” implemented by the WCC in 2020, all schools in the conference are required to “include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community in the pool of final candidates for every athletic director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coach position in the athletic department.”