Michelle Clark-Heard leaving WKU for head-coaching job at Cincinnati

Michelle Clark-Heard is leaving Western Kentucky to become the women's hoops coach at Cincinnati, while her former assistant, Greg Collins, will take over as head coach of the Lady Toppers.

Clark-Heard, who played for Western Kentucky, spent six seasons at her alma mater and went 154-48 with four NCAA tournament appearances. This season, the Lady Toppers were 24-9, won the Conference USA tournament and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Elite Eight participant Oregon State.

Clark-Heard replaces Jamelle Elliott at Cincinnati. Elliott went 113-162 in nine seasons with the Bearcats, but they were 19-13 this past season, their best record in the past 15 years. UConn coach Geno Auriemma, for whom Elliott played and was an assistant coach, criticized the school via social media for firing Elliott last week.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, which first reported the news, Clark-Heard has a six-year deal with $400,000 in base salary with Cincinnati, about double what she made at Western Kentucky. The paper reported that she does have to pay a $250,000 buy-out of her Western Kentucky contract, which was signed last year and ran through 2021.

Clark-Heard formerly worked as an assistant at Nebraska, Cincinnati and Louisville, as well as a Division II head coach at Kentucky State, before taking over at Western Kentucky. Louisville coach Jeff Walz, taking part in a Women's Final Four teleconference Tuesday, praised his former assistant Clark-Heard.

"She's done a remarkable job down at Western Kentucky, how she brought that program back into winning conference championships, playing in the NCAA tournament," Walz said. "And now, having worked in Cincinnati before and being originally from Louisville, it keeps her close to home and family. But will give her a new challenge. But I expect Michelle to do extremely well."