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Craig Jackson begins his second season as the head coach of the Montreat College women's basketball program after posting a 14-17 record in his inaugural season. The nine game turnaround from the prior season constitutes one of the biggest one year gains in the country. The fourteen victories by Jackson's Cavaliers were the most wins at Montreat since the 2001-02 season.
Jackson saw his team finish in the Top 10 in the national rankings in three different categories, while finishing in the Top 50 in eight. Individually, Jackson's players appeared in the final national Top 20 in nine different statistical categories.
In addition to the national recognition, the Cavaliers ranked in the Top 3 of the Appalachian Athletic Conference in 15 team or individual categories, including leading the conference in blocked shots.
Individually the Cavaliers had Janel Cox and Whitney Boone named to the Academic All-Conference team and Kim Staley (All-Freshman and All-Defensive Team) and Chazaree Wright (1st Team All-Conference) were also honored.
Prior to coming to Montreat College, Coach Jackson spent eight years at the University of the Pacific, as both a assistant and head coach. During his tenure at Pacific, Jackson helped lead the Tigers to a program record six consecutive winning seasons and two appearances in the Big West Conference Championship. In his eight years as a Tiger, Jackson's team finished with and overall record of 105-102 and a conference record of 66-46, finishing lower than tied for second place only once.
Jackson's Pacific teams also hold the records for most consecutive wins (9), most conference wins to start a season (6), and the best two conference seasons in school history. Jackson is one of two coaches at Pacific ever to beat a ranked opponent and is only the third coach in Big West Conference history to lead his team to the Big West Conference Championship game in his first season.
The success of the Tigers took place despite repeatedly playing one of the toughest schedules in the country. Along with Coach Jackson's defeat of No. 19 UC Santa Barbara, the Tigers had eight games, over a four year span, against past NCAA National Champions. These past Champions included Stanford, Baylor, Texas Tech and Purdue. In addition to these opponents, the Tigers took on national and regional powers Duke, Kentucky, Illinois, Rutgers, Colorado, Marquette, Wisconsin Green-Bay and Utah with Coach Jackson on the bench.
Coach Jackson's teams also proved to be crowd favorites, as they set both the top two single game and single season attendance records. The 2002-03 version of the Tigers saw over 11, 000 fans watch the Tigers play in 13 home contests.
Accolades did not escape the Tigers during Coach Jackson's time on the bench. The Tiger players received twenty-four All-Big West Conference selections during his eight years, including four players on the All- Freshman team and four 1st team All-Conference selections. The Tigers were awarded for classroom success as well, with two Big West Scholar Athletes of the Year, five Verizon District VIII Academic All- Americans, and a National Athletic Directors Association Basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year award winner, while Jackson was with the Tigers.
Overall, this is Coach Jackson's 17th season as a coach and his 15th at the college level. He was a head coach at Linn-Benton Community College and an assistant and Willamette University and Lewis and Clark College.
Jackson graduated from Willamette University with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and was a decathlete on the track and field team.
Coach Jackson is married to the former Brooke Carrigan, a Hall of Fame member and All-American from Colorado Christian. The couple resides in Greenville, South Carolina, where Brooke is the assistant women's basketball coach at Furman University.