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Cal U women's coach out

CALIFORNIA -- Six games into the 2011-12 season, California University has unexpectedly changed head coaches for its women's basketball team.

Mark Swasey, who guided the Vulcans to a 3-3 record so far, is out. His top assistant, Jessica Strom, has been named interim coach, effective immediately.

Strom has been with Cal's women's basketball program as an assistant since the 2006-07 season, spanning three head coaches -- Darcie Vincent, Heather Kearney and Swasey.

There was no reason given for Swasey, who was hired in June, 2009, leaving the program, nor did the university say it was a school decision or that of the coach.

The university, through Director of Communications and Public Relations Christine Kindl, said simply that, "Mark Swasey is leaving California University to seek other opportunities. The university wishes him the best in his future endeavors."

When pressed for more comment, Kindl said, "That is all I can say about that situation."

She said she was informed about the change on Friday.

"Cal U is looking forward to an exciting season of women's basketball with coach Strom guiding the team," said Dr. Lenora Angelone, vice president of Student Affairs, through a university-released statement. "She has proven to be a tremendous asset to our program, and we have great confidence in her leadership and coaching skills."

In Cal's final game under Swasey, the Vulcans dropped a 77-68 decision to Bloomsburg Sunday in a PSAC contest at Hamer Hall.

Meanwhile, the Vulcans won their first game under Strom's leadership Friday night at Kutztown, 89-67.

Leading the way for the Vulcans (4-3, 3-2) were Megan Kermond and Amy Johns with 16 points each, while teammates Chelsea McKnight and Danielle Luckett added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Johns grabbed 13 rebounds, while teammate Selena Adamshick grabbed 12.

Cal took a 46-32 lead at halftime and never trailed after that.

Strom was a four-year starter at Penn State University from 2002-05. She is currently third all-time in three-pointers (1,919) and steals (310) at Penn State and ranks among the school's leaders in scoring (1,466) and assists (776).

A three-time All-Big Ten selection, Strom finished her Penn State career as one of only four players to register 1,000 points and 750 assists in a career. She was a two-time winner of the Tom Caldwell Award, which was given in recognition of the "Unsung Hero" on the Lady Lions team.

Strom has coached at Penn State's basketball camps and hosted private individual instruction opportunities since 2002. She also coached the 2005 Pittsburgh Rockers, an AAU team that participated in several national tournaments, and has been active in Special Olympics and Easter Seals programs.

Swasey was unavailable for comment for this story.

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