George Mason Director of Athletics Brad Edwards has announced a three-year contract extension for women’s basketball head coach Nyla Milleson through the 2020-21 season.
Milleson just completed her fifth season at the helm and guided the Patriots to a record-breaking season in 2017-18 that included a school-record 24 wins, a berth in the WNIT and the program’s first postseason victory.
“I’m proud of the success the women’s basketball program experienced this year under Coach Nyla Milleson on the court as well as the positive culture she has fostered in the program and among the student-athletes,” said Director of Athletics Brad Edwards. “Through her leadership the program has experienced tremendous growth in the basketball-rich Atlantic 10 Conference, finishing this season with a program-best fourth place finish in the conference, which culminated with getting the Patriots back into the postseason with a WNIT berth.”
Milleson arrived in 2013-14 for the Patriots’ first year as members of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Patriots tied a school record with 11 conference wins in 2017-18 and finished fourth in the A-10 for their highest conference finish in 14 years. Mason also had both the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year (Natalie Butler) and Rookie of the Year (Nicole Cardaño-Hillary) – the first time in 21 years the same school had achieved the feat. Butler, who led the country in rebounding and double-doubles, also earned Honorable Mention All-America honors from the Associated Press and was taken by the Dallas Wings 30th overall in the WNBA Draft in April, becoming the first Mason player in program history to be drafted.
Mason finished 24-10 for its first winning season in 14 years and just its fifth 20-win season in program history. The program also was one of the most improved teams in the country. The nine-game turnaround from 2016-17 (the NCAA factors in wins and losses) was tied for the 10th-best in Division I.
The Patriots eclipsed the previous school record for wins (21) in their final regular-season game. They then advanced to the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament for the second time in three years before falling to eventual tournament champ George Washington.
Mason received an at-large bid to the WNIT, marking the program’s first postseason appearance in 14 years and third overall. The Patriots defeated Stephen F. Austin at EagleBank Arena in the opening round for their first postseason victory. They then fell in the second round at Virginia Tech, which advanced to the WNIT championship game.
In addition, they enjoyed unprecedented success at home at EagleBank Arena. They strung together 13 straight home victories for their longest home winning streak in program history and started off the season 12-0 at EagleBank Arena, also a school record. Their 17 home victories established a new program mark for most in a season.
“I would like to thank President (Ángel) Cabrera and Brad Edwards for giving me the opportunity to continue to lead our women’s basketball program,” head coach Nyla Milleson said. “I believe our staff and student-athletes embrace – to the highest degree – the mission and philosophy of George Mason University and our athletic department. We not only work tirelessly to compete every day on the floor as athletes but also diligently as students in the classroom, as evidenced by two Provost Scholar Athletes (sophomores Sarah Kaminski and Jacy Bolton) and a 3.37 team GPA. We have incredible community service efforts, both on campus as well as in the Fairfax community and the DMV area. Our women’s basketball program is proud to represent George Mason University. I am honored to mentor, coach and continue to help grow and shape young women of our program who will be great future leaders.”
Milleson came to Mason after six years as the head coach at Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. Under her watch, the Bears reached the postseason WNIT three times and notched three consecutive 20-win seasons. Milleson began her college coaching career at Division II Drury, also in Springfield, Mo. She started the women’s basketball program at Drury and led the Panthers six conference titles in seven seasons, along with five straight NCAA Tournament appearances. That included a breakthrough season in 2003-04 in which the Panthers won 36 games and reached the Division II national championship game.
Originally from Goodland, Kan., and a graduate of Kansas State, Milleson also coached at the high school level in Kansas and Missouri before transitioning to the college ranks. She eclipsed 350 collegiate wins this past season and has compiled a 360-209 record in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach.