FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head women’s basketball coach Mike Neighbors and the University of Arkansas have signed a new agreement aimed at securing Coach Neighbors’ leadership of the Razorback women’s basketball program through the 2028 season.
Neighbors’ previous agreement was set to expire following the 2023 season. His new agreement extends his tenure through at least the 2026 season, with automatic year roll overs for up to two NCAA appearances that could push the full length of the agreement to April 30, 2028.
As part of the new agreement, Neighbors will receive annual compensation of $600,000 through April 30, 2023, with a scheduled increase to $700,000 on July 1, 2023. Neighbors also can receive $50,000 increases to his base salary for each of the program’s first two NCAA appearances following the 2022-23 season.
“What Coach Neighbors has done in his first four seasons as the head coach of our women’s basketball program has been extraordinary,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek said. “He has guided our team to success in the Southeastern Conference and nationally, while transforming Razorback Women’s Basketball into one of the most dynamic and exciting college basketball programs in the nation. With his up-tempo style of play, infectious enthusiasm and enduring commitment to Arkansas, Coach Neighbors has captured the attention of fans throughout our state and attracted some of the nation’s very best players to the University of Arkansas. I am excited for the future of our women’s basketball program under Coach Neighbors’ leadership.”
Entering his fifth season as Arkansas’ head coach, Mike Neighbors has elevated the program into one that is nationally recognized. He has collected 78 wins at Arkansas in just four seasons, already the fourth highest win total by a head coach in program history, trailing only Gary Blair, John Sutherland and Tom Collen. Neighbors’ 176 wins as a head coach through eight seasons puts him in rarefied air in terms of quick coaching success – he is one of two NCAA Division I coaches to have won that many games in eight or fewer seasons.
Under his watchful eye, the Hogs have also become a consistent winner in the SEC. His 2020-21 team helped cement that, as the Razorbacks finished 9-6 in the league, the first time in program history with back-to-back winning seasons since joining the SEC back in 1991. By knocking off both UConn and Baylor in 2021, Neighbors became the first Head Hog in the history of the women’s basketball program to notch two top-five wins in the same season. The 2020-21 season culminated with the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2015, and if not for the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have been the first back-to-back appearances for the program since the 2002 and 2003 NCAA Tournaments.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue living my dream as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Arkansas,” Neighbors said. “This meaningful investment in the future of our program is an endorsement of the progress we have made and further validation of our success both in the Southeastern Conference and nationally. Additionally, it is a credit to all of the student-athletes, coaches, staff members and fans who have played an integral role in that success. I am deeply appreciative of the confidence demonstrated by Hunter Yurachek and our administration in the direction of our program. It is another example of the strong commitment the University of Arkansas has to elevating our program and positioning us to consistently compete among the elite programs in women’s collegiate basketball.”
The turnaround Neighbors has executed at Arkansas has been incredible. In his first season with the Hogs, they entered the SEC Tournament as the 14th seeded team in the conference – this year, they entered the NCAA Tournament as the 14th ranked team in the nation. He’s done it by implementing his functionally fast offense, one that has produced several program records in his four years back on the Hill, including highest single season PPG (83.4, 2019-20) and the most three-pointers hit in a single season (314, 2019-20), which also broke the SEC record. His offense has also helped unlock several great players that have come through the program during his tenure, most notably Chelsea Dungee. Dungee, who transferred to Arkansas because of Neighbors, was named an AP All-American, one of just 10 WBCA All-Americans, and finished third on Arkansas’ all-time scoring list despite only playing for the Hogs for three seasons. As a result, Dungee was taken fifth overall in the WNBA Draft, nine slots ahead of teammate Destiny Slocum, who Neighbors also landed out of the transfer portal. Neighbors’ track record of developing elite-level talent predated his Arkansas days, however, as he also piloted the incredible career of Kelsey Plum, who still holds the NCAA Division I women’s basketball scoring record.
Neighbors’ success and unique charisma has amounted to successful recruiting, which has the Hogs’ future looking brighter than ever. Despite the departure of players like Dungee, Slocum and former First-Team All-SEC player Alexis Tolefree, Arkansas now boasts a roster that has five former five-star players, headlined by former McDonald’s All-Americans Amber Ramirez, Sasha Goforth, Maryam Dauda and Jersey Wolfenbarger. He also has developed players like Makayla Daniels and Marquesha Davis, who will both be back for the 2021-22 season.