Mississippi State

Howard named MSU women’s assistant basketball coach

Credit: Mississippi State Athletics

 Mississippi State women’s basketball head coach Sam Purcell announced Monday the addition of Anita Howard as an assistant coach. 

“With over a decade of head coaching experience, Anita Howard is a phenomenal addition to this staff,” said Purcell. “She embodies all of the qualities of a proven winner; her knowledge of the game, energy and passion for our vision here are undeniable. She is a world-class person, a mother, wife and a mentor that will prove to be a great resource to our student-athletes and staff. She has grown through the coaching ranks, excelling at each stop, and there is no doubt that her experience and tireless work ethic will make her successful once more here within our program.” 

Howard joins the staff following five seasons as the head coach of Georgia Southern. Howard compiled a 75-71 record with the Eagles and improved the program’s win total in each of her first four seasons at the helm. She coached guard Terren Ward to a 2024 First Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection this past season, which made Ward only the fifth Eagle to earn All-Conference honors three times in their career. 

“I am very excited to be a part of such a proud program and conference,” added Howard. “It is very clear that after I met with Coach Purcell that our values and priorities aligned. His passion for this community, program, University and his vision for what we can accomplish here are unmatched. I know that my experience and work ethic will fit right in. I look forward to not only supporting this staff, but continuing to raise the standard here. I am truly blessed to be here and can’t wait to get to work.”

She guided Georgia Southern to its first 20-win season in two decades with a 21-10 overall record in 2022-23. The 21 wins were the most in a single-season since 2000-01. Howard also led Georgia Southern to its first postseason victory and its first berth in over three decades in the 2023 Women’s Basketball Invitational. The appearance marked the It’s fourth overall postseason appearance and the first since 1994 for the Eagles.

Howard arrived in Statesboro after a three-year stint as the head coach at Columbus State. In her three seasons, Howard led Columbus State to two NCAA Division II Championships appearances and a 2017 NCAA Elite Eight appearance. She earned a record of 66-25 over the three seasons, including a 45-18 mark in Peach Belt Conference play.

Prior to Columbus State, Howard served as the head coach at Livingstone College for two seasons and Salem College for three seasons. She led Livingstone to a NCAA Division II top-five ranking and a record 23-game winning streak, while also turning around a Salem College program that won just four games prior to her arrival and directing the Spirits to 17- and 21-win seasons, earning Great South Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors. 

Howard was a standout high school player at A.E. Beach High School in Savannah, Ga. She played for three seasons at Fort Valley State, earning SIAC Defensive Player of the Year honors all three years. She then transferred to Armstrong State for her final season, where she helped the Pirates compile a school-record 27-4 mark, capturing the Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament title while leading the team to their first NCAA Championships appearance. 

She graduated from Armstrong State in 2003 with her bachelor’s degree in fine arts design. Beginning her coaching career in Savannah, she was the head coach at Savannah High before moving into the collegiate ranks as an assistant coach at Winston-Salem State, Shaw (N.C.) and St. Augustine’s (N.C.) before beginning her head coaching career at Division III Salem College in 2012.

Howard and her husband, Theo, have three children, Jason, Thallan and Theo II.

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