Salukis hope to reach new heights in women’s basketball behind new head coach Kelly Bond-White

Kelly Bond-White had big shoes to fill when she decided to take the job with Southern Illinois University’s (SIU) women’s basketball program. Just last season, the Salukis won the regular-season conference title and made the NIT tournament. 

“Kelly just oozes with success […] when you’re around Kelly you just know she’s a winner,” interim athletic director Matt Kupec said. 

Bond-White will be taking the place of former head coach Cindy Stein.


“I’m extremely proud of our team. This group was an extremely competitive group. We had some great people that give us their best every day,” Stein said. 

She said SIU was capable of more but was still happy with the end result of the season, being one of Southern Illinois’ best in more than 15 years. 

After the season, Stein gave her endorsement to one of her assistants, Jody Adams-Burch. 

“We have a very good associate in Jody Adams-Burch. She’s right here in the school so she knows the program and knows how we did it,” Stein said. 

Despite the recommendation from Stein, the Southern Illinois athletic department decided to start a nationwide search for a new head coach, which led to Bond-White, an assistant for Texas A&M who played under Stein while both were at the University of Illinois, where Stein was an assistant at the time. 

Texas A&M went 14-15 last year, losing in the first round of the SEC tournament. They had a successful start to the season until they reached their conference schedule, where they went 4-12. 

Bond-White said she will carry on the legacy of Southern Illinois proudly with her new team. 


“[Kupec and Chancellor Austin Lane] shared their vision of what this program has been, with coach Stein winning a championship here,” Bond-White said, “But even more importantly, [they believe in] what we continue to be and where we can take the program.”

Bond-White has had ties with SIU for a number of years as, during her introductory press conference, she revealed her first scholarship offer came from then Southern Illinois head coach Cindy Scott when Bond-White was in the seventh grade. 

As soon as Bond-White arrived in Carbondale, she was given a tour of the athletic facilities around campus. She even threw out the first pitch at SIU’s baseball game against Bradley on Sunday, April 3rd. 

Bond-White said one of the reasons she chose SIU was because of the support around SIU athletics from the facilities to the fanbase. 

“I’m a relationship person, so everything comes back to family,” Bond-White said, “That was something that attracted me here. It intrigued me when everyone talked about the logistics of the coaching staff and how everyone pulls off of each other as resources.”

Last year’s SIU women’s basketball team mostly consisted of fourth year students across its roster. Stein said she felt bad for them, knowing how much they gave to the program day in and day out.

“I’m just disappointed that our seniors had to go out on that type of game. My heart goes out to them because they work their butt off. I just felt like they deserved better,” Stein said.

According to the new coach, she wants to come in right away and build a winning culture. Most of the players coming in will be new to the program, so she understands she has a lot of work to do. 

“All I want [the players] to focus on is the next step. We don’t have to look at the big picture right now, we’re just going to look at the details of what is right in front of us,” Bond-White said. 

The athletic department is expecting a lot from Bond-White. Kupec said he knows the future is looking bright for Saluki basketball

“It’s a storied program. We’ve won championships, we won this past year. But with coach Kelly Bond-White, we think we’re gonna take this program to a whole new level,” Kupec said. 

At Texas A&M, Bond-White was known for her prominence as a recruiter. Southern Illinois hopes she can bring that edge to Carbondale.

“I think the best way to attract talent is by just being authentic. And just like [what] I was given, we talk about access to opportunity,” Bond-White said. “We don’t make many promises, but what I promise them is an access to opportunity, and that we’re gonna work hard and get after it.”

The new coach said she wants to develop good habits within the team and that’s where the building blocks are established to form a winning program. 

“I was walking through the halls, and I saw the Saluki standards pyramid,” Bond-White said, “It talks about toughness, integrity and building champions. Those are value-based things, but those are habit-driven, and that’s all I want our young ladies to know.”

On the court, Bond-White wants to ensure the Salukis are meticulous and efficient in everything they do.

“One of the things we need to do is control the pace and tempo. […] When it’s time to push, we’re gonna push. But when it’s time to slow it down and isolate, I want to look to score early,” Bond-White said. 

Kupec said he expects Bond-White to deliver everywhere, not just on the court.

“What we do here is we win on the court, we win in the classroom and we win in the community. Just being around Kelly, you know she knows how to do it right,” Kupec said. 

Bond-White will need togetherness in order to have success at her new school. She needs everyone to buy in. If everyone does so, Bond-White said the sky’s the limit. 

“I want to bring back that connection, bring back the legacy of Salukis that have built this foundation,” Bond-White said. “Then, we can take it to the next level, so our current players can understand the sacrifices they have made and be able to cut down nets like they did last year.”

Sports Reporter Cole Daily can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at cdaily_de. To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter