March 26, 2008
by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa volleyball program welcomed new head coach Sharon Dingman on Tueday, March 25. Dingman, a native of Indiana, is the eighth head volleyball coach in the history of the UI.
During the introductory press conference, it was easy to see the joy and excitement Dingman held inside and out after being named the Hawkeyes’ volleyball head coach. Dingman is still settling into the Iowa City atmosphere but she is happy to be a part of it.
“It is a very special day for Hawkeye athletics, but I have to say that I think it is a more special day for Sharon Dingman,” Dingman said. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be here. Iowa City and the University of Iowa are very welcoming places. It’s a great place with values that I appreciate and agree with. It’s unbelievable to be at a world-renowned university at this point in my career. I am so thrilled to be here at a place that I can go anywhere in the world and people are going to know the University of Iowa and they are going to know the Hawkeyes and that feels very good.”
While Dingman enjoys the moment, she knows there is plenty of work to be done before the 2008 season kicks off. Iowa finished with a 9-22 overall record, 1-19 in the Big Ten last season.
“Obviously it was a difficult season to end where we did,” said Gary Barta, UI director of athletics. “We spent a lot of time looking at what we needed to do or wanted to do in volleyball. It was difficult on coaches, it was difficult on student-athletes and it was difficult on the athletic director as well. I’ll give you a list of some of the things we were looking for: someone who is a proven winner certainly, someone who fit the Iowa values system, somebody who had a proven commitment to academics. The process was rigorous but we know found a great leader.”
“Every single person that I met while I was here during the interview process made me feel very welcome,” Dingman said. “Iowa is a very welcoming place; I felt that from the minute I got here until the end. Today meeting everybody has just confirmed what I thought — that it is a great place with values that I appreciate, values that I agree with. I certainly believe that academics has to be at the forefront to any of the success that a student-athlete is going to have.”
In Dingman’s 17 year coaching career, she has been with three schools, starting off with Auburn in 1991 for one season. In 1992 she took over at Butler for eight seasons before going to Illinois State for another eight years. Her success has led her to a 336-212 (61 percent) overall record.
“It is a very special day for Hawkeye athletics, but I have to say that I think it is a more special day for Sharon Dingman. I’m absolutely thrilled to be here. Iowa City and the University of Iowa are very welcoming places.”
UI head volleyball coach Sharon Dingman
“Sharon has been a successful coach for 17 years,” Barta said. “She averages over 19 wins a season, she’s proven she can win at the highest level and when you take a look at her background you can see she knows volleyball as well as anybody in the country in terms of her background and what she has done in her career. She does have a proven commitment to academic excellence when you take a look at her student-athletes, the graduation rate, the GPA, all of the things that are important to us. She has a great familiarity with the Big Ten as a student-athlete and certainly as a competitor, she has competed against the Big Ten schools. She shares our values; she knows our areas of strengths and the areas where we are going to improve.”
The Hawkeyes will hope she can turn around the Iowa program like she did in her first season at each of the other schools. In her first season with the three programs she went 22-13, 19-15 and 20-9.
Dingman has consistently brought her teams to the upper echelon of the respective conferences. She has only had two losing seasons and one losing season in conference play. In six of her eight seasons, Illinois State reached at least the semifinals in the Missouri Valley Conference. Dingman was named MCC Coach of the Year in 1997.
Dingman knows the Big Ten well as she played for Purdue for two seasons and the Boilermakers won back-to-back Big Ten Championships. She is well aware of how tough the Big Ten will be, but she looks forward to the challenge.
“I started my career in gold and black as a player at Purdue and won two Big Ten championships there,” Dingman said. “This is certainly where I hope to finish my coaching career in gold and black.”
Barta and Dingman are still working on the contract, but she will be given six years with incentives. During her tenure, the Hawkeyes will hope she can revamp the program and provide the success she has had in the past. No one is more excited than Dingman, who was all smiles before, during and after the press conference.