On April 6, 2007, the Washington women's basketball program entered an exciting new era with the appointment of Tia Jackson as the school's head coach.
Now with three years of head coaching experience at Washington under her belt, Jackson begins her fourth season with the Huskies. During the 2009-2010 season the Huskies participated in the postseason Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI). They steamrolled Portland in the first round of the invitational 75-44, but ended the season with a second round 58-59 loss at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Washington ended the season with a record of 15-18.
Jackson began her second campaign as the Huskies' Top Dawg in 2008-09. The previous season, a young UW squad garnered a 13-18 record, with highlights including a come-from behind last-second shot win over eventual NCAA Tournament team Purdue and a dramatic upset of ninth-ranked California in the regular season finale.
UW finished sixth in the 2007-08 Pac-10 standings with an 8-10 league mark. The Huskies were able to play the role of spoiler at the end of the season, with their win over Cal dashing the Bears' hopes of claiming a share of the conference crown.
Jackson had three players earn conference honors at season's end, led by senior Emily Florence's nod to the All-Pac-10 third-team and the inaugural Pac-10 Defensive Team. Sophomore Sami Whitcomb was tabbed to the Pac-10 Defensive honorable mention squad and Katelan Redmon earned Pac-10 All-Freshman Team acclaim. The springtime also saw the graduation of Jackson's three seniors - Florence, Dominique Banks and Andrea Plouffe.
Already showing her talent on the recruiting trail, Jackson's initial 2008 signing class included three nationally-ranked prospects. Heading up that group was 18th-ranked Liz Lay out of Oklahoma City, Okla., as well as 44th-ranked Kristi Kingma (Mill Creek, Wash.) and 64th-ranked Mollie Williams (Cerritos, Wash.).
Jackson's first recruiting class also included standout South Australian point guard Nicole Romeo and Charmaine Barlow from the Chief Sealth High School program that won back-to-back state titles in 2005 and 2006. Transfers include another Chief Sealth star Regina Rogers who played her freshman year at UCLA, and Southeastern Illinois teammates Christina Rozier and Lydia Young.
Jackson arrived in Seattle after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant under coach Gail Goestenkors at Duke University, where she was considered by many experts as one of the top recruiters in the country. She helped lead the Blue Devils to the NCAA championship game in 2006 and the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2007.
In addition to serving as an assistant at Duke, Jackson's strong assistant coaching resume included stints at UCLA, Stanford and Virginia Commonwealth. Not only a successful coach, the East Coast native played her collegiate career at the University of Iowa under C.Vivian Stringer and competed with the Phoenix Mercury under head coach Cheryl Miller in the WNBA's inaugural season.
"Tia is perfect match for Washington," said then-UW Athletic Director Todd Turner at the time of her hiring. "Her experiences at the highest levels as a coach and a player have prepared her well for this special opportunity. Tia's passion for the game, her tutelage under some of the greatest coaches in women's basketball, and her commitment to the total development of student-athletes make her the ideal person to lead our program."
As a recruiting coordinator at Duke, Jackson attracted consecutive recruiting classes that ranked among the top five in the nation. She also signed four players who were named McDonald's All-America honorees. In addition, Jackson was involved in all aspects of the program's operation including scheduling, budget, scouting, player development, on-court coaching, academic advisement and community service.
Prior to her two-year stint at Duke, Jackson spent six seasons as an assistant on the West Coast. During the 1999-2000 season, she served under Tara VanDerveer at Stanford and helped lead the Cardinal to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She then spent five seasons at UCLA as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Coach Kathy Olivier.
During her time at UCLA, she was responsible for attracting two nationally-ranked top-10 recruiting classes that included four McDonald's and/or WBCA All-America selections.
"I am extremely excited to be coming to the University of Washington and to be a part of the academic and athletic excellence for which this university is known," Jackson, who played against Washington on 13 occasions as a player and assistant coach, said at the time of her hiring. "This is an extraordinary opportunity, filled with a wonderful new challenge. I want to thank President Emmert and Todd Turner for this tremendous opportunity. I feel so fortunate to be back in the Pac-10, where I've spent a great deal of my coaching career. This is truly a homecoming for me.
"There is a great women's basketball tradition at Washington that the coaches before me have worked hard to build. I'm excited to present a style of basketball that will stimulate the Husky fan base and push our program to the top of the Pac-10 and toward our goal of a national championship."
A 1995 graduate of the University of Iowa, Jackson played for Stringer, the first coach to lead three different schools to the NCAA Final Four and a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. She helped lead the Hawkeyes to four top-25 rankings in five seasons before earning her bachelor's degree in media studies and film, emphasizing in television production and editing.
As a junior, Jackson helped Iowa to a 27-4 record, a berth in the NCAA Final Four and was named to the NCAA Mideast Regional all-tournament team. She completed her college career ranked 10th on Iowa's all-time list for rebounds with 507 and seventh in steals with 168. For her career, she averaged 10.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Jackson was honored as an all-Big Ten Conference selection and a Street & Smith's Preseason All-American twice.
Upon graduation, Jackson accepted a position as an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth. Following her first year as an assistant at VCU, she was drafted No. 9 overall by the Phoenix Mercury and played in the WNBA's inaugural season in 1997. Jackson helped lead the Mercury to the Western Conference title under Olympian and Basketball Hall of Fame honoree, Cheryl Miller. During her time with the Mercury, Jackson was a teammate to two-time Olympian and Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman.
A native of Salisbury, Md., Jackson was a honorable mention high school All-America selection for Mardela Springs High School after scoring 3,108 points during her prep career under the tutelage of coach Barbara McCool.