Sam Houston State and women’s basketball coach Brenda Nichols have agreed to part ways after 12 years as the head of the program.

In her 12 years at Sam Houston, Nichols won the university’s first women’s Southland Conference championship and earned the first NCAA Division I post-season tournament appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI).

“We are very appreciative of the work Brenda Nichols has done for this program over the last 12 years,” said Director of Athletics Bobby Williams. “She gave us our first Southland championship and she has been a great Bearkat as a player, a coach and an even better person. I thank her for all she has done for our program.”

After winning the Southland Conference regular season in 2013, the Bearkats played in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) for the first time in school history, playing a first-round game at Tulane.

Nichols’ players have combined to set 27 school records and have earned All-Southland Conference honors 12 times.

“Sam Houston State holds a very special place in my heart,” Nichols said. “Twelve years ago I was given the most amazing opportunity. I was asked to return to my alma mater as the head coach of the SHSU women’s basketball team. I have been truly blessed by this opportunity. I would like to thank Dr. Gaertner and Dr. Hoyt for giving me the chance to coach at an outstanding university. I would also like to thank Bobby Williams and Chris Thompson for their contributions in assisting with this opportunity.

“Thank you so much to the Huntsville community who has supported the SHSU women’s basketball program, myself and my family. I have worked with many special athletes and coaches here at Sam that I will always be grateful for. Not many coaches get an opportunity to return to their alma mater and go in the record books as a player, hall of famer and a coach. I am so lucky and blessed to have had this opportunity to play and coach here at Sam. Once a Bearkat always a Bearkat,” she said.

From 2011-2013, the Bearkats won a combined 53 games, the best three-year stretch in program history. The 18 wins both in 2012 and 2013 equaled the school mark for most victories in one year at the Division I level (tying the 1988 and 1996 squads).

Nichols played at Sam Houston for two years from 1987-89. She was the leading scorer for the 18-9 Sam Houston squad in 1988, coming to Huntsville after two years as an NJCAA All-American at Western Texas Junior College. Her 17.8 career scoring average stands as the second-highest mark in Bearkat women's basketball history. In 2014 she was inducted to the Sam Houston Athletics Hall of Honor.

The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.