South Dakota State University and women's basketball coach Aaron Johnston have agreed to terms on a contract extension that keeps the program's winningest coach on the bench through the 2022-23 season. The deal was announced Thursday by university officials.
"A.J. has built our women's basketball program into one of the most successful, consistent and well-respected in the country," SDSU Director of Athletics Justin Sell said. "He is a great teacher of the game who has created a culture of excellence not only on the court, but in the classroom and throughout our campus community."
Since taking over as head coach in 2000, Johnston has compiled a 449-153 overall record (.746 winning percentage) in 19 seasons, posting 20 or more wins in a season 15 times. He is the Summit League career leader with 151 victories in conference play, winning at an 83 percent clip (151-31 record) heading into the 2018-19 league schedule. SDSU also has fashioned a 25-2 record (.926 winning percentage) in Summit League tournament games.
"SDSU is a special campus and Brookings is a special community. My family and I are fortunate to call both places home," Johnston said. "President (Barry) Dunn and Justin Sell are tremendous leaders and I am grateful for their support as we continue to create an exceptional experience for our Jackrabbit student-athletes."
Johnston led the Jackrabbits through a successful transition to NCAA Division I competition, following a run of three consecutive NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearances that included SDSU winning a national championship in 2003. SDSU has earned 12 consecutive postseason berths at the D-I level - qualifying for the NCAA Tournament eight times and making four Women's NIT appearances. His squads also have won five Summit League regular season titles.
The Jackrabbits began a streak of five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances during the 2008-09 season, in which they were nationally ranked through the second half of the year. Johnston was one of four Naismith Women's College Coach of the Year finalists that season in leading SDSU to a 32-3 record. In addition, he has been honored as Summit League Coach of the Year four times.
Johnston's teams also have performed well in the classroom, recording eight top-10 finishes in the Women's Basketball Coaches' Association's Top 25 Team Honor Roll. SDSU led all divisions of women's basketball in team grade-point average three consecutive seasons from 2005-06 through 2007-08. Throughout his tenure, the Jackrabbits have maintained a 3.47 cumulative team GPA.