Utah State tabbed a coach known for her recruiting abilities to lead its women’s basketball team. John Hartwell, the school’s director of athletics, announced Monday that Kayla Ard would become the Aggies women’s ninth head coach in 32 seasons.
Ard replaces Ben Finkbeiner, who served as USU’s interim head coach most of the past season. His father, Jerry Finkbeiner, was the team’s head coach for seven seasons before taking a medical leave of absence for a non-life-threatening condition in November. This season, the younger Finkbeiner steered the team to an 8-23 overall record, 2-16 in the Mountain West Conference.
“Utah State Athletics has a great tradition of winning," Ard said in a statement, "and I could not be more fired up to get to work and give the best fans in the country something to be excited about as we make some noise in the Mountain West.”
Ard comes to Logan from the University of Denver, where she spent the past three seasons as the associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and offensive coordinator. She served as interim head coach for the final 11 games this season, including the team’s first road win, after Jim Turgeon was placed on administrative leave. The Pioneers finished the 2019-29 campaign with a 15-15 overall record and landed third (9-7) in the Summit League.
Prior to Ard’s arrival in Denver, the Pioneers had suffered through five straight losing seasons, which included single-digit wins in each of their previous four years.
The former player out of Southeastern Louisiana (2004-06), meanwhile, worked as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for five different programs over the past nine seasons. They included Dayton, Clemson, Troy and Pensacola State. She has coached one WNBA draft pick and 17 players who have competed professionally overseas.
The Aggies carried three seniors on this season’s roster: guard Lindsey Jensen-Baker and forwards Hailey Bassett, who was named to the Mountain West Women’s Basketball Championship All-Tournament Team, and Marlene Aniambossou, the MWC Sixth Player of the Year.