Beth Combs was selected as the fifth coach in Northwestern women's basketball history on April 13, 2004, bringing with her a winning attitude, a new coaching philosophy and a newly minted championship ring.
"Northwestern University truly combines the best of both worlds in academics and athletics," Combs said. "The Big Ten Conference is the best in the land and the University is one of national prestige. We pride ourselves in successes both on and off the court."
Keeping players close to home has been Combs' direction in her first three classes. In just three years, the Wildcat roster has produced 10 in-state products. The future continues to look bright as Combs' third recruiting class (2007-08), which brings in two Chicago products, was ranked 18th in the nation by the ASGR Scouting Service. This year's freshman class is led by local product 6-5 center Amy Jaeschke, who was ranked No. 14 nationally by Blue Star Basketball. Prior to enrolling at NU, the McDonald's All-American was a member of the USA Basketball Women's U19 World Championship Team that took home gold.
"Our goal is to have a top 50 class every year. We still want to bring in the best player we can find from across the land, but the Midwest--and Illinois--has some of the best players in the nation. We want to keep them home."
Familiar with the demands on student-athletes at a highly competitive academic institution, Northwestern is a perfect fit for Combs, who in just three seasons at the helm has made strides to bring the Wildcats back to Big Ten prominence. Under Combs' tutelage, the Wildcats have had three All-Big Ten honorable mention selections and 11 Academic All-Big Ten members.
Although the record may not indicate the victories, Combs has made the Wildcats a tough foe for Big Ten opponents. The Wildcats have challenged several top-25 teams over the last three years. In her first season, she guided Northwestern to its highest solo Big Ten finish since 1998-99 and posted the school's first win over a nationally ranked opponent in six years with a 59-48 decision over No. 22 Penn State. Their 20-point win over Michigan was the highest margin of victory since the 2002-03 campaign.
Over the last three seasons, the Wildcats have been in several Big Ten games until the final buzzer. Combs' squads have suffered 14 losses of 10 points or less to conference foes in her three years in Evanston.
A two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year, Combs led Colgate to its first-ever Patriot League Tournament Championship and a berth into the NCAA Tournament in 2003-04. The Raiders, who lost to national finalist Tennessee in the first round of the NCAAs, led all NCAA Tournament participants with a 100-percent graduation rate.
Despite having the interim tag on her title, Combs led the 2001-02 Colgate team to a 14-17 record and picked up Patriot League Coach of the Year honors in her first season. Colgate's 14 victories were the most in a decade and set the wheels in motion for the Raiders' championship run two years later.
Combs served as an assistant at Colgate from 1998-01 where she was in charge of recruiting and scouting. She also was responsible for the women's strength and conditioning program and the program's compliance issues.
Prior to moving to Colgate, Combs was a graduate assistant (1995-96) and then an assistant coach (1996-98) at Eastern Illinois. She began her coaching career as an assistant coach at St. Joseph-Ogden High School in central Illinois and was the head volleyball coach at Champaign Centennial High School in 1992 and 1993.
Combs captured Colgate's Howard Hartman University Coach of the Year award twice (2001-02 and 2003-04). The award is given annually to the Colgate coach who best represents leadership, spirit, discipline and determination that Hartman, a former head basketball coach at Colgate University, exemplified.
A native of Decatur, Ill., Combs attended the University of Illinois where she played basketball for the Fighting Illini. She earned her psychology degree in 1992 before going on to complete her master's degree in sports administration from Eastern Illinois in 1997.
Combs was a member of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball East Regional Advisory Committee. She currently is a member of the WBOC advisory committee and represents the Big Ten as their conference captain. Additionally, she has served as a YES clinician and has worked on numerous summer camp staffs.
Combs and her husband, John, live in Wilmette, Ill., with their son Jack, 3.
BETH COMBS PROFILE
2004-present--Head Coach, Northwestern
2001-04--Head Coach, Colgate University (Hamilton, N.Y.) (Interim head coach in 2001-02) Head Coaching Record: 63-114 (14-17 in 2001-02; 9-18 in 2002-03; 21-10 in 2003-04; 5-25 in 2004-05; 6-22 in 2005-06; 8-22 in 2006-07)
1998-2001--Assistant Coach, Colgate University (Hamilton, N.Y.)
1996-98--Assistant Coach, Eastern Illinois University (Charleston, Ill.)
1995-96--Graduate Assistant Coach, Eastern Illinois University (Charleston, Ill.)
1991-95--Assistant Coach, St. Joseph-Ogden High School (St. Joseph, Ill.)
1992-94--Head Volleyball Coach, Champaign Centennial High School (Champaign, Ill.)
1992--Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, University of Illinois
1997--Master's Degree in Sports Administration, Eastern Illinois University