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Carlson resigns after six seasons as SOU coach

ASHLAND — Alex Carlson, after spending six years checking box after box as the Southern Oregon University women’s basketball coach, has made a family-driven decision to resign, SOU Director of Athletics Matt Sayre announced Friday.

Carlson will stay on with the Raiders through the end of the school year. When he departs, he’ll do so with a 124-34 record that gives him the highest winning percentage (.785) in team history, four national tournament appearances in five seasons, three Cascade Conference championships, and a CCC Coach of the Year award.

“Alex was an obvious choice for us six years ago, and has more than lived up to expectations with the achievements our program has seen under his leadership,” Sayre said. “His win-to-loss ratio is unparalleled but by far his most lasting legacy is in the amazing young women he recruited to SOU. He gave them 100 percent as a coach. They gave us a program to be proud of athletically and academically. Coach Carlson and his family will be dearly missed by SOU, and we thank them for being Raiders.”

Carlson came to Ashland after serving as the associate head women’s basketball coach at University of Alaska Anchorage. In his first season, he presided over the most dominant team in Raider history — going 33-2 for a school-record win total with an average scoring margin of plus-27 points, capturing Cascade Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and advancing to the NAIA Div. II national title game for the first time ever. The Raiders made it to the final despite losing CCC Player of the Year Ashley Claussen to a season-ending injury in the quarterfinal round.

Carlson’s Raiders repeated as CCC regular-season champs a year later, went on to appear in three more CCC tournament championship games, and combined to go 80-20 in conference play over five seasons. They produced five NAIA All-Americans two CCC Players of the Year in Claussen and Autumn Durand. Academically, they were named an NAIA Scholar Team every year.

“I want to thank all the great people at SOU that I’ve had the chance to work with these past six years,” Carlson said. “My family and I have loved our time here in the Rogue Valley and will miss the community immensely. I have had the privilege to coach so many great athletes at SOU and want to let all of my players know how much I’ve enjoyed working with them. The future is very bright for the women’s basketball program at SOU and I am excited to see its continued success.”

In his final full season as head coach, Carlson’s 2019-20 Raiders made arguably their most improbable run to the national tournament. After finishing third in the regular-season standings, they went on the road to defeat nemesis and 25th-ranked Eastern Oregon in the CCC Tournament semifinals to clinch an automatic bid. It was their first win in La Grande since 2014, and came after they trailed by 10 entering the fourth quarter and had lost the first two meetings by a combined 45 points.

Carlson will continue coaching the Raiders through the spring as they practice and seek non-counting competition. They previously opted out of the month-long CCC spring schedule.

A search for Carlson’s replacement will begin immediately.

Southern Oregon University Head Basketball coach Alex Carlson talks with players during the CCC Tournament final against OIT at Mountain Avenue Gym on Monday, Feburary 29, 2016. (Photo by: Larry Stauth Jr)