Robert Morris University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Craig Coleman announced Monday that RMU has signed head women's basketball coach Sal Buscaglia to a three-year contract extension through May 2016. In seven seasons, Buscaglia has changed the fortunes and reputation of the Colonials' program, earning two NCAA Tournament berths along with two Northeast Conference Tournament championships and two NEC regular-season titles, posting a 126-88 record as the RMU head coach.
"Coach Sal has taken RMU women's basketball to a new level, and he has excelled as a coach and mentor to the student-athletes on his team. His success has helped to elevate Division I athletics at RMU and is part of our growing national reputation," said RMU President Gregory G. Dell'Omo.
Buscaglia earned the Northeast Conference Brenda Reilly Coach of the Year twice since taking the helm of the RMU program in 2003-04, the latest coming last season. The 32-year coaching veteran eclipsed 600 career wins last year and holds a lifetime record of 613-278 (.688). Over the last five seasons, he has guided the Colonials to four national tournament appearances - NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2008, the Preseason WNIT in 2008 and the Postseason WNIT in 2010. They are the only national tournament showings in team history.
"Sal has not only orchestrated an incredible turnaround in our women's basketball program, but has kept the team at the high standard that he created for himself and his teams," Coleman said. "The women's basketball program is now a perennial conference power and is recognized both regionally and nationally. Coach Sal is directly responsible for that success. We are very happy to extend his contract as we look forward to bigger and better things in the future."
"I truly am appreciative of this recognition given to me by Athletic Director Craig Coleman and President Dell'Omo," said Buscaglia. "It is rewarding to know that they have the confidence that the program will sustain the high level of achievement that we have consistently had and I am so proud of. This extension reflects not only on myself, but the hard work and dedication of Associate Head Coach Charlie (Buscaglia), the support of the administration, staff and faculty and the tremendous players, people and students that Coach Charlie and myself have been able to attract to Robert Morris. Both Charlie and I are thankful for the work of our former assistant coaches and the long hours and devotion of our two current assistant coaches, coach Kyle (Hejmowski) and Coach René (Rice)."
With no full-time starters returning, Buscaglia guided the 2009-10 team to its first outright regular season NEC title and the tournament's No. 1 seed for the first time. The Colonials set team records for regular-season wins (22), NEC wins (17), road wins (10), conference road wins (9) and road winning streak (9) as he earned his second NEC Coach of the Year honor.
He was instrumental in molding guard Angela Pace into one of the most complete players in NEC history. She became the first player to earn NEC Player of the Year and NEC Defensive Player of the Year, finishing the top-13 in 10 of the league's 13 statistical categories. Pace was the third Buscaglia recruit to earn NEC Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of Sugiery Monsac (2005) and Sade Logan (2008).
A new team makeup in 2008-09 saw the Colonials finish with a record 13-18, one season after posting a record of 23-10 overall. The 2007-08 squad shared its second consecutive NEC regular-season title with a 16-2 mark in conference play. The Colonials capped off the season by claiming the NEC tournament championship with an 86-75 win against Long Island before falling to No. 2 Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. RMU also won the NEC Tournament in 2006-07 behind a school-record 24 wins against just eight losses. That team lost to North Carolina State in the Colonials first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
In 2003-04, Buscaglia's first Robert Morris team struggled to a 3-24 record. One season later, the Colonials went 20-10, marking the third-biggest turnaround in NCAA history. Buscaglia was named the Brenda Reilly Coach of the Year for the feat, the same year he garnered his 500th coaching victory.
Prior to Robert Morris, Buscaglia spent five seasons at Manhattan College from 1998-2003, compiling a record of 79-65. In 2003, Buscaglia, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., guided the Jaspers to a 20-10 overall record and their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. He has also had head coaching stints at the University of Buffalo (1990-98) and Hilbert Junior College (1977-80). In all, Buscaglia has averaged 19 wins per season as a head coach.