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Kayla Karius introduced as new University of South Dakota women's basketball coach

Karius was an assistant for two seasons under Dawn Plitzuweit in Vermillion from 2016 to 2018

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University of South Dakota women's basketball coach Kayla Karius is introduced during a press conference at the DakotaDome Club on Monday, April 11, 2022 in Vermillion, South Dakota.
Aaron Packard / University of South Dakota Athletics
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VERMILLION, S.D. — The University of South Dakota found exactly what they were looking for in the next head coach of Coyote women’s basketball, Kayla Karius.

At Karius’ introductory press conference Monday, USD athletic director David Herbster said he had the luxury of being “very choosy, very picky” due to the women’s basketball program sustaining a high level of success. For the same reasons, university president Sheila Gestring described the position as “highly attractive.”

In searching for and hiring a new head coach for the men’s basketball program in mid-March, USD opted for Eric Peterson, a Divison I assistant with high-major experience and familiarity with the university. Herbster and Gestring went back to a similar mold in tabbing Karius as the 11th head women’s basketball coach in program history.

“I know for some people the process took too long, and for some, it seems like it doesn’t take long enough,” Herbster said. “But I certainly wasn’t going to rush the process. I can tell you right now, I think we definitely got it right.”

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University of South Dakota women's basketball coach Kayla Karius, center, is introduced by Athletic Director David Herbster and President Shelia Gestring during a press conference at the DakotaDome Club on Monday, April 11, 2022 in Vermillion, South Dakota.
Aaron Packard / University of South Dakota Athletics

Karius (formerly Tetschlag) served as an assistant to former Coyote coach Dawn Plitzuweit, who was named to the same position at West Virginia University on March 31, for two seasons from 2016 to 18, receiving the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's Thirty Under 30 award in 2018.

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“I’m so fired up to be back in Vermillion and once again be a part of the amazing Coyote family,” Karius said. “There is just something about this place that really feels like home to us. This was a no-brainer for us to return and make this our home.”

After her previous stop in Vermillion, the native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, spent three seasons at the University of Wisconsin before a stop at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2021-22. Prior to her time on Plitzuweit’s staff, Karius was an assistant at the University of Sioux Falls.

During her playing career, Karius scored 1,372 points and was a member of three NCAA tournament teams at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2011. As a senior, Karius was honored as the Horizon League co-player of the year and the Phoenix made a run to the NCAA Sweet 16, where Karius posted a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double against future two-time WNBA defensive player of year Brittney Griner of Baylor. After college, she played professionally overseas for four seasons including stops in Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium.

Though there are a few more question marks this offseason than in recent seasons — all three former assistants followed Plitzuweit to WVU, along with all-Summit League performers Chloe Lamb, Hannah Sjerven and Liv Korngable graduating and talented freshmen Maddie Krull and Kyah Watson currently in the transfer portal (they could still choose to return) — Karius was quick to give credit to her predecessors for building the program and leaving it in a healthy position.

“I want to give a nod to the great history of the women’s basketball program,” Karius said before reading off the names of the 10 former coaches. “Thank you for laying the incredible foundation for this program and seeing it continue to take steps and keep going forward to make it what it is today.”

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Kayla Karius

With the Coyotes advancing to the first Sweet 16 in history in the most recent of four-straight NCAA tournament berths, the program is on an upward trajectory. Behind the energy and enthusiasm displayed at the podium, Karius is determined to continue the program’s recent successes.

“I’m so excited to have this incredible group that has tasted a lot of success and yet is still so hungry and driven for more and so competitive,” Karius said. “... A lot of fun awaits us, so I can’t wait to get to work.”

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