It truly was a good Friday for one member of the UNM coaching staff.

UNM named Yvonne Sanchez its fifth women’s head basketball coach. Sanchez replaces former head coach Don Flanagan after a 19-day nationwide search.

Sanchez was immediately named interim head coach when Flanagan stepped down April 4, and she said she wasted little time building a case to succeed Flanagan.

“For me, it wasn’t just an interest,” she said. “I have a passion for this job.”

Athletic Director Paul Krebs said Sanchez was the only candidate offered the opportunity.

Sanchez interviewed for the position April 18, beating out finalists Curt Miller — who Krebs hired during his tenure as athletics director at Bowling Green State — Texas A&M associate coach Vic Schaefer, and West Texas A&M head coach Krista Gerlich.
“Yvonne was probably an underdog going into the process,” Krebs said. “She showed a toughness, a grit and a passion. Her opening couple of comments in the interview set the tone for the whole interview, and from there on it was her job to lose.”

Sanchez agreed to a four-year contract, which has not been finalized. Sanchez’s first day will be May 1, the same day Flanagan’s contract expires. Krebs said Sanchez will make less than the nearly $400,000 Flanagan made annually.

Krebs said Sanchez earned the job because she has a vision for the program.

“When it was all said and done … we did a national search and found the best candidate, and there was no question that our best candidate was in our backyard,” Krebs said.

Sanchez said she will be able to recruit her own group of players starting next year.

“Going back to how long (the contract is), the 2012 class is extremely important,” she said. “We have identified who we want. The nice thing is that everyone is aboard. The phone calls in May will be very easy to make, because I can have answers for recruits.”

And Sanchez is no stranger to recruiting. She has served as the Lobos’ recruiting coordinator since she has been with UNM and has been a member of the Lobos’ coaching staff since 2000. She spent all 11 seasons studying under Flanagan and spent the last three seasons as the associate head coach.

Sanchez said Flanagan sent her a text message early Friday morning congratulating her on landing the job.

Even though Sanchez has been a part of a winning formula under Flanagan for over a decade, she said she plans to establish her own coaching style.

“There are going to be some changes, and there will be some changes in the staff,” Sanchez said. “I’ve been very fortunate to be in this business for 18 years and have made a lot of contacts nationally. There are a lot of people that I’ve meet, that I know when I go out recruiting. You see them working and how good of a job they do. I always envisioned if I got a (head coaching) job that I’d want (them) on my staff.”

Sanchez is currently the only assistant coach in the 2010-11 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Board of Directors and the only assistant coach on both the State Farm All-American committee, which selects the nation’s top 10 players, and the WBCA Coach of the Year selection committee.

Krebs said he believes Sanchez will prosper in leading the program to new heights.

“We made countless phone calls and interviewed four candidates,” Krebs said. “Without question, she was our No. 1 choice and our No. 1 candidate.”