A month and a half after both men's and women's basketball coaches resigned, Colorado State University-Pueblo has landed two new coaches to run two of their most high-caliber programs.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Paul Plinske announced Tuesday the hiring of Tommie Johnson as the next CSU-Pueblo head women's basketball coach and the hiring of Matt Hammer as the next head men's basketball coach.
Both are on campus and beginning their jobs immediately.
Johnson is the 11th head coach in the women's program's history.
"Tommie rose from a highly talented and very competitive pool of applicants," Plinske said in a press release.
"Tommie made his mark on this campus when he was here from 2008 to 2016," Plinske said. "People have not forgotten that. He works tirelessly, is an outstanding people-person and will own the state of Colorado in recruiting. I'm really excited to watch him flourish in the role of a head coach. He knows what it takes to build a winning culture and will develop our existing student-athletes to their fullest potential while bringing in the right type of future ThunderWolves."
Johnson, 46, comes back to CSU-Pueblo after spending the past two seasons as a women's basketball assistant coach at University of Denver under former CSU-Pueblo head women's basketball coach Jim Turgeon.
Johnson helped turn the DU women's program around, as the Pioneers went from a six-win team in 2016-17 to a 16-14 program in his first season (first winning season since 2011-12). The turnaround was the second largest in NCAA Division I in 2017-18. The team finished fourth in the Summit League and had the No. 1 recruiting class in the league according to ASGR Basketball.
"I'm super excited. I grew up here as a coach, a man, as a family," Johnson said. "Right now I'm just ecstatic to be home.
"My relationship with the program is one of tremendous respect. Took me in as a coach who thought he knew a lot, didn't know anything. I'm excited to be here and get rolling again."
Johnson replaces Curtis Loyd, who was with the women's program for two seasons before resigning on March 6. He posted a 41-20 overall record and 34-10 mark in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference during his tenure.
Hammer, 35, comes to CSU-Pueblo following a successful stint at Sheridan (Wyo.) College. He is the seventh head coach in the men's program's history.
"I would like to welcome Mallery and Matt Hammer and their family to CSU-Pueblo," Plinske said in a press release. "It was evident from the start that they are the perfect fit for CSU-Pueblo."
"Matt battled against an amazing group of finalists to surface as our leading candidate. He is a proven winner, not only as a player, but as a coach. He has learned from a legend in Don Meyer, former men's basketball coach at Northern State. Matt is highly intelligent and understands the game as well as anyone. His experiences in NCAA Division II will aid him greatly. He's been a workhorse recruiter in our region and knows how to build a championship-caliber program."
Hammer comes to the Pack after five seasons at Sheridan College where he erected an overall record of 118-43 (.733).
The Generals had their best season under Hammer in 2018-19 with a 31-4 overall record and a trip to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament as an at-large selection. Sheridan closed the season with a 14-2 mark in conference play for the team's second straight Region IX North Championship. Sheridan earned the right to host the Region IX Championship Tournament and lost in the title game to Casper College. The Generals were ranked No. 11 nationally at the end of the regular season and held a ranking as high as fifth.
"It's awesome to be here. It's been a dream of mine to get back to the Division II level, having played at this level and most of my coaching experience at this level," Hammer said. " It's great to be here.
"From the first time we stepped on campus, it just felt right, it felt like this is the the place to be. Not only from the coaching side of it but our family as well. We're excited to be here and it's been nothing but a great experience.
"We're excited to join the family that we have around the CSU-Pueblo athletic department."
Hammer replaces Ralph Turner, who was with the program for eight seasons before resigning on March 1. He totaled a 117-108 overall record and 95-79 mark in the RMAC.
Chieftain interim sports editor Jeff Letofksy can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @JeffLetofsky.
The CSU-Pueblo athletic department contributed to this article.