Jason Watson has been named head coach of BYU's women's volleyball program after serving as an assistant for the past three years. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The BYU Athletic Department today announced that Jason Watson has been named women's volleyball head coach. Watson, who has served as interim head coach since Jan. 28, becomes the fourth head coach to lead the Cougar program.
"It became clear through the interview process that Jason was the right person to guide our women's volleyball program," BYU Senior Associate Athletics Director Tom Holmoe said. "He has excelled in his previous experiences as an assistant coach while developing the tools to be an outstanding head coach. We are excited about the future of our women's volleyball program with Jason at its helm."
Watson, 34, has 11 years of collegiate coaching experience as an assistant at four universities, including two seasons with the BYU men's volleyball team and three with BYU's women's program. He has excelled as both an offensive and defensive coordinator during his coaching career, which also includes stops at Kansas State, Arkansas State and Montana State. Watson has helped his teams advance to the NCAA Tournament in four of the last six seasons.
Watson takes over a BYU program that is No. 3 all-time in total victories and has qualified for 31 of the sport's 36 national postseason tournaments, including 21 of 24 NCAA Championships. The program boasts 23 conference titles and 58 All-America citations.
"I am humbled, yet excited for the challenge ahead," Watson said. "I am excited the administration has placed its faith in me to lead this program. I believe in the future of this team and look forward to working with the players we have in our program and those who will join us in the future. I am confident we are on the cusp of getting BYU women's volleyball back into the national spotlight."
After an All-American playing career at BYU, Watson coached two seasons under former U.S. Olympic coach and two-time NCAA Coach of the Year Carl McGown with the BYU men's squad in 1995-96. He came back to BYU in 2002 as an assistant with the women's team under Karen Lamb. As BYU's defensive coordinator, Watson established the Cougars as a top defensive squad. The Cougars led the Mountain West Conference and were ranked No. 5 and No. 13 nationally in blocks per game in 2004 and 2003.
Prior to returning to BYU, Watson served as an assistant at Kansas State for two years, including one year as the associate head coach, while helping guide the Wildcats to consecutive NCAA Tournament berths. Coaching the setters and coordinating the offense, Watson established a powerful attack that produced several team and individual records. The 2001 team broke the school record for conference wins with a 15-5 Big 12 mark and set program records for kills, total attacks and 20-kill matches. In 2000, Watson helped guide the Wildcats to arguably their best season in school history while directing an offense that set the school record with 2,024 kills and totaled 1,828 assists (No. 2 in school history). Under Watson's tutelage, setter Disney Bronnenberg finished second nationally in assists, averaging 15.01 assists per game.
Watson spent two years at Arkansas State during which time the Lady Indians advanced to the NCAA tournament in 1999 after winning consecutive Sun Belt Conference regular-season titles in 1998 and 1999. He helped the Lady Indians post a 51-18 (.739) record and coached a number of all-league performers, including Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Jessica Barney, who led the league in assists with 1,457 in 1999.
Watson began his women's volleyball coaching career with a two-year stint at Montana State, helping the Bobcats achieve their best record in nearly 15 years. In nine years coaching NCAA women's volleyball, Watson's teams have compiled a 185-97 (.656) record.
As a player, Watson was a four-year starter and two-time captain from 1990-94 as the BYU men's program grew from its infancy to a national power. After a 2-25 season in its second year as an NCAA sport, BYU achieved a 21-6 record and No. 2 national ranking in Watson's senior season in 1994. Watson is still BYU's all-time assist leader (4,649) and single-game assist record holder (128 against Hawaii on March 27, 1993). He was named a second-team American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American, Volleyball magazine honorable mention All-American and a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Third Team in 1994. He was a member of the Australian Men's National Team from 1990-91 and a member of the Junior National Team from 1987-90.
A native of Homebush, Australia, Watson is a 1995 physical education and sports business management graduate of BYU. He and his wife, Larissa, have two sons (Bryce and Brandon) and one daughter (Kara).
As the fourth person to lead BYU's storied women's volleyball program, Watson joins former head coaches Karen Lamb (2002-04), AVCA Hall of Fame member Elaine Michaelis (1962-2001) and JoAnne Calderwood (1956-61).
Watson said assistant coach Brooke Huebner will remain on the staff and continue as the program's recruiting coordinator. A search for another assistant coach will begin immediately.