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Rice Announces Shelley Pennington Assistant Women's Basketball Coach Endowment

Million Dollar Gift Establishes First Coaching Endowment for Women's Athletics

Posted: October 13, 2022 -- 9:47 a.m. CT

Thursday morning, Rice Athletics announced the creation of the Shelley Pennington Assistant Women's Basketball Coach Endowment, the first endowment of a coaching position in women's athletics at Rice.

Lakevia Boykin, who was named to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's Thirty Under 30 list in her initial season at Rice, will become the first Shelley Pennington Assistant Women's Basketball Coach. She helped guide a youthful Rice team through a challenging start to the 2021-22 season to end the year as one of the toughest teams in Conference USA by winning eight of their last 12 games. Boykin joined head coach Lindsay Edmonds' inaugural coaching staff after four seasons as an assistant coach and primary recruiting coordinator at Davidson. She was a four-year letter winner at Wake Forest from 2009-13 before joining the coaching staff as the team's video coordinator.

The endowment is funded by a $1 million gift from Pennington’s estate and will provide a separate fund for the purpose of supporting the compensation of an assistant women's basketball coach at Rice. The endowment is the third for Rice Athletics coaches. The Dunlevie Family Head Football Coach endowment was created in 2018 and the Bixby Family Head Baseball Coach endowment was announced in March of this year.

"Coaching endowments provide foundational support for Rice Athletics, and we are grateful to Shelley Pennington for her bequest and commitment to Rice. We are excited to tribute the establishment of the first such fund for women's basketball," said Joe Karlgaard, Rice Director of Athletics, Recreation and Lifetime Fitness. "As a former letter winner, Shelley's gift helps tell the powerful story of the excellent student-athlete experience offered at Rice."

“It's an honor to be the first women's program at Rice to have an endowed coaching position,” Rice women's basketball coach Lindsay Edmonds stated. “Women's intercollegiate athletics at Rice became a reality through the devotion of women such as Shelley Pennington. They set the course for the success this program has enjoyed and this endowment further enhances our efforts moving forward.”

“Shelley was the heart and soul of the early Rice women's basketball teams with her grit, determination and competitive spirit,“ said Rice Board of Trustees Emeritus Lynn L. Elsenhans ’78 who was a teammate of Pennington’s at Rice.

Shelley Pennington ’78 played basketball at Rice during the founding years of women's intercollegiate athletics at Rice. She was a three-year letter winner from 1976-78 and in 1977 was named the third winner of the Joyce Pounds Hardy Award which recognizes the Owls’ most outstanding female student-athlete. Pennington was a member of Rice's Navy ROTC program and completed Naval flight training as part of the second class of women who were admitted to the program.

In 1985, she resigned from active duty in the Navy but continued to serve in the Naval reserve. After leaving active duty, Pennington flew commercial airliners for TWA for 10 years before she was recruited to join UPS where she rose to the position of Chief of Pilot Safety for 757 and 767 aircraft until her retirement in 2012. She remained active in athletics and became an avid distance runner, following in her father's footsteps and competing in multiple Boston Marathons.

In addition to her athletic career at Rice, Pennington served as President of Jones College. Shelley battled ovarian cancer, and passed away in June of 2021. Her friends from Rice created the Shelley Pennington Memorial Award, which is presented annually to a junior or senior at Jones College that demonstrates the qualities that she personified – leadership, team play, and the ability to bring out the best in those around her.

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