Bowling Green, Ky. — Western Kentucky University Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig announced Tuesday that head volleyball coach Travis Hudson has received a seven-year contract extension.
The deal, which runs through June 30, 2016, is pending approval from the school’s Board of Regents.
“Coach Hudson has enjoyed a highly successful career at his alma mater. He has displayed loyalty, great character, and superb leadership,” Selig stated. “He is one of the game’s best teachers. WKU volleyball has become an annual top-25 level program under his tenure and consistently performs at the top of our highly competitive Sun Belt Conference. We could not have a better head coach than Travis Hudson, therefore, we decided to show him and all future WKU volleyball student-athletes that he is here for the foreseeable future.
“We look forward to many more championship seasons and NCAA tournaments under coach Hudson’s guidance.”
Hudson, 37, is coming off a season in which he helped the Lady Toppers become the first Sun Belt Conference school ever to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. It was the school’s third trip to the event since 2002.
The all-time leader in coaching victories on the Hill, Hudson enters the 2008 campaign with a career mark of 298-144 (67.4%) in 13 seasons at the helm of the program including going 129-46 (73.7%) in the Sun Belt. After last year’s 27-9 finish, WKU has recorded eight straight seasons with 20 or more wins, including two with more than 30. Actually, the Lady Toppers have posted a winning record in each of the last 10 years while claiming seven consecutive Sun Belt East Division championships from 2000-06 as well as conference tournament titles in 2002 and ’05.
In fact, over the last eight seasons, WKU has recorded an overall mark of 220-55 (80%) and an SBC record of 103-15 (87.3%) while advancing to the title match of the league tournament in six of the last seven years.
Since his third squad finished 9-22 in 1997, Hudson has guided the Lady Topper to no fewer than 18 victories. The turnaround began in 1998, when WKU went 26-10 and advanced to the SBC Tournament championship match — the increase of 17 wins over the previous fall’s total was the biggest turnaround in the nation. After following up with an 18-14 campaign, the Lady Toppers earned the school’s first regular-season conference title in nine years after posting a 25-8 record while going 13-3 to share the SBC East Division crown in 2000.
WKU was 24-6 overall and 13-1 in the league the following fall, advancing to the finals of the conference tourney, then in 2002 compiled a school-record 33 victories en route to a 33-5, 14-0 SBC finish while earning the program’s first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over New Mexico State in the championship match of the SBC Tournament. The Lady Toppers were 28-7 a year later, going 14-2 to win another East Division crown, and they posted a 26-7 mark including an 11-3 finish in the league in ’04.
In 2005, Hudson guided WKU back to the NCAA Tournament, as it would finish the year 31-3 while defeating all 15 conference opponents it faced (going 12-0 in the regular-season before sweeping through the league tournament). The Lady Toppers would then win their seventh straight regular-season East Division title in ’06, posting a 15-3 league mark as part of a 26-10 campaign.
Other firsts that Hudson has guided WKU to during his tenure include leading the Lady Toppers to their initial appearance in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association South Region poll (10th in 2003) and their first-ever appearance in the USA Today/CSTV coaches’ poll in 2004, when WKU climbed as high as 32nd in the country. The ’03 squad’s final RPI ranking (50th) was also the highest the program has achieved until WKU was 36th last fall.
“I am proud and honored to be the head volleyball coach at WKU,” said Hudson. “I have been approached several times through the years for positions at other schools, but have found it very rewarding to stay on the Hill and, with the help of the administration and a great group of players, create a nationally recognized program right here in Bowling Green.”
Numerous Lady Toppers have earned recognition on and off the court during Hudson’s tenure — that includes helping Caron Blotch and Megan Argabright become the first two AVCA All-Americans in school history. Eight individuals have been named to the all-South Region squad, while 32 have earned all-Sun Belt recognition. In fact, Hudson has coached four SBC Players of the Year, two Newcomers of the Year, three Defensive Players of the Year and a Freshman of the Year while earning the league’s Coach-of-the-Year honors on three occasions himself. He has also been selected the AVCA South Region Coach of the Year both in 2002 and ’05, making him a finalist for the organization’s National Coach-of-the-Year award.
Seven players have earned ESPN The Magazine Academic all-district accolades, with Natalie Furry going on to become the school’s and conference’s first volleyball Academic All-American in 2000. In addition to recording a 100 percent graduation rate during his tenure, Hudson’s teams have collected an AVCA Team Academic Award five times while claiming or sharing the WKU Female Scholar Team Award on five occasions.
Hudson began his career as a student assistant on the Hill, serving as the program’s interim head coach twice before taking over in 1995 — at the age of 24, he was the youngest head coach in the nation at the time.
A 1994 graduate of WKU with a degree in business management (with a marketing emphasis), Hudson and his wife Cindy have two sons, Tyler (6) and Andrew (2).