J.R. Payne Named Women's Basketball Head Coach at SUU

Published: April 20, 2009 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Southern Utah University Athletics Director Ken Beazer announced the hiring of J.R. Payne as the newest head coach of the Women's Basketball program. Payne comes to the Thunderbirds after previous stops at Santa Clara, Boise State and Gonzaga. 

"J.R. is ready, able and willing to lead this program," athletics director Ken Beazer said. "I knew she was right for the job after walking across campus in a pouring snow storm and the conversation stayed along the lines of basketball like the weather didn't even matter." 

Payne was the top assistant at Santa Clara University last year, under first-year head coach Jennifer Mountain. Payne was instrumental in recruiting the top junior college player in the state of California to play for the Broncos as Lena Gipson led the team in scoring and rebounding. 

Prior to Santa Clara, Payne served as an assistant coach for Boise State University. The Broncos enjoyed a wealth of success, winning conference titles two of the three years and advancing to the NCAA postseason. BSU posted back-to-back 24-8 seasons, including a perfect 14-0 mark at home during the 2007-08 season. 

Payne began her career at Gonzaga University, serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under head coach Kelly Graves. Payne was an integral part of the Bulldogs turn around as the team posted a four-win season during the staff's first year to a 28-win season during the 2004-05 season, including an undefeated run in the West Coast Conference. Payne was a part of the process that brought Gonzaga's first All-American to campus in guard Shannon Mathews. 

Payne was a four-year letter winner at St. Mary's College (Calif.), helping the Gaels to their first every appearance in the NCAA tournament during the 1998-99 season. She was a first-team all West Coast Conference selection in addition to two first-team all West Coast Conference tournament honors as a point guard. 

"I'm thrilled to join the Thunderbird family and this community," Payne said. "It was the people here in Cedar City that really sold me on the program and I knew that this was where I wanted to be. I expect our team to be a blue collar team and work hard both on and off the court."

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