SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Evangel University director of athletics Dr. Dennis McDonald announced Wednesday that the contract of head women’s basketball coach Leon Neal will not be renewed.
The decision was made after the Crusaders finished their seventh consecutive losing season including a disappointing 2017-18 campaign. The Crusaders finished the season with a 5-24 record overall and 4-15 record in Heart of America Athletic Conference play.
In addition, over the last seven seasons, the Crusaders were a combined 57-139.
“This was a tough decision personally because of my respect for Leon as a coach,” McDonald said. “During his tenure, he has done a tremendous job preparing young women for graduation and leading them in their faith and walk with Christ.
“Unfortunately, the last seven seasons have fallen short of the championship level we expect. I believe we’ve reached a point in our program where we need a change of direction and I believe we need to begin that process now.”
A national search for Neal’s replacement will begin immediately.
Neal got his head coaching start during the 1994-95 season as he was named Co-Head Coach with Lynn Bowen. The duo won 114 games in five seasons including the program’s first-ever NAIA Final Four appearance in 1995-96.
Prior to the 1999-2000 season, Neal was elevated to head coach and saw the Crusaders go 154-55 in his first six seasons. During 24 seasons as the head women’s basketball coach at Evangel, Neal posted an overall record of 427-327 with a .566 winning percentage.
His Crusaders reached the 2004-05 NAIA Final Four and was led by NaTasha (Neal) Moore, Neal’s daughter. She was a four-time NAIA All-American and the program’s first and only three-time Heart Player of the Year.
Evangel reached the NAIA Division II National Tournament five times and the NAIA Division I National Tournament three times during Neal’s tenure reaching the last time in 2011.
Neal was elected to the Evangel Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993, the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
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Released: March 7, 2018 — Evangel Athletics