ASHEVILLE, N.C. - UNC Asheville women's basketball coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick has completed her coaching staff with the hiring of Russ Gardiner as an assistant coach.
"I am extremely excited about Russ Gardiner joining our staff," declared Kirkpatrick. "He brings a wealth of experience not only from a coaching perspective but also a very successful career in the business arena. I knew from our first conversation that he would be a tremendous contributor and difference maker in our building process. His work ethic, innovation and forward thinking are just a few of his attributes that will help propel us back into the top half of the conference. With the final addition of Russ, we have a wonderful blend of people on our staff to serve UNC Asheville Athletics and our community well."
Gardiner brings a variety of experience to UNC Asheville. He was an entrepreneur for twenty years. Gardiner was the founder and C.E.O. of Promark Inc., a national promotional advertising agency, with major accounts such as Pepsi, Wells Fargo Bank, Frito-Lay, Pizza Hut, Gallo Winery and Robert Mondavi Winery.
Gardiner started a second career in coaching and athletic department administration after he sold Promark Inc. in 2001. He worked at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif. from 2001-2006 in various roles. Gardiner served as assistant men's basketball, assistant men's golf coach and assistant athletic director for development and marketing. He was a part of a men's basketball program that reached the 2003 Western Regional. In 2004, the NCAA awarded him with the "NCAA National Volunteer of the Year Award" for his fund raising, marketing and coaching accomplishments. Sonoma State University awarded him the "Spirit of the Seawolves Award".
In 2006, he was named head varsity boys coach at Cardinal Newman High School in California and led them to a 27-7 record, the Northern California Champions title and a berth in the California State Championship game. He was named the Press Democrat All-Empire Co-Coach of the Year.
From 2007-09, he served as head varsity girls coach at Sonoma Academy. The school had never had a winning record in basketball and his team finished the 2007-08 season with a record of 18-11. His 2008-09 team finished with a 26-3 record and won the Northern California sectional small schools championship.
He won the UCLA All-University golf championships in 1972 and was a member of the nationally-ranked UCLA debate team. Gardiner was elected to the UCLA student council and selected as one of seven finalists for the "UCLA Outstanding Senior Award". While at UCLA, he was selected to intern for the United States Senate (U.S. Senator Joseph Montoya) and also with the California Governor's Office for Governor Ronald Reagan.
Russ also served on the Board of Directors of the NCAA Emerald Bowl (now known as the Kraft Hunger Free Bowl) from 2003-2006. He has been active in Rotary International, Canine Companions for Independence and as a volunteer instructor in entrepreneurship for Junior Achievement.
Russ has three children. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Southern California. Michael is a graduate of St. Mary's College in California. Kathleen is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz where she was a member of the women's soccer team.