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Anthony Bozzella, who coached Iona women's basketball team, heads to Seton Hall

Tony Bozzella talks to the media after being

Tony Bozzella talks to the media after being named head coach of the women's basketball team at Seton Hall University. (March 27, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

Anthony Bozzella, who coached the Iona women's basketball team for the past 11 seasons, was introduced Wednesday as the head coach of Seton Hall, his alma mater.

Bozzella arrived at Iona in 2002, inheriting a program that had struggled through 20 consecutive losing seasons. He posted a 152-187 record in 11 years, three times winning 20 games after starting his opening year with a 1-27 mark. His teams reached the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference finals three times, including this season, but never won a title in a league dominated by Marist.

The Gaels went 20-13 this season before losing to Drexel in the first round of the WNIT Tournament.

"This is one of the most difficult professional decisions of my life," Bozzella said in a news release issued by Iona. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my years at Iona College -- the Iona community is awesome, and my children have virtually grown up on this campus. Seton Hall is where I met my wife and where I grew into a man. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go back to my alma mater and give back to a place that has given so much to me."

Bozzella replaces Anne Donovan, who left Seton Hall to coach the WNBA's Connecticut Sun.

Assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Ashlee Kelly will serve as Iona's interim head coach while the school searches for Bozzella's successor.

"Coach Bozzella has been a key figure in Iona College women's athletics, turning the basketball program around and making it a perennial contender in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference," said Iona athletic director Eugene Marshall Jr. "He's been not only an effective recruiter and coach, but also an Iona ambassador whose players are excellent students as well as athletes. We thank him for all he's done for the College and wish him well at Seton Hall."

This marks the third time in three years that Seton Hall has turned to Iona to hire a basketball coach or athletic director. Kevin Willard left Iona in 2010 to take over the Pirates' men's team. Seton Hall hired Iona athletic director Patrick Lyons the following year, and now Lyons has signed Bozzella.

With The Associated Press

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