While many will profess to bleed ‘blue and gold’ for Phoenix College, very few will be as passionate about that statement as Samantha Ezell. Ezell heads into her 6th year as athletic director at the school, her 11th as a proud member of the Bears’ Athletic Family, and her 24th year of shaping the lives of college students and student-athletes on the two-year and four-year levels.
For Ezell, coming to PC was a way of completing a lap around the nation to return to her native Arizona. Born in Kingman and raised in Yuma, Ezell first encountered PC as an opponent when she was a member of the vaunted Central Arizona Women’s Basketball program as a player. Spending two years playing under NJCAA Hall of Fame Coach Lin Laursen would spawn a desire to become a coach herself, which she did soon after finishing her playing career at the University of Northern Colorado. She returned to the Grand Canyon State to start her coaching career, spending three years at South Mountain Community College as both the head coach for cross country and the lead assistant for women’s basketball. Ezell then moved to the east coast to get her first taste of coaching at the four-year level, first as an assistant for two years at NCAA Division II schools Wheeling Jesuit University and Shepherd University (both in West Virginia); followed by a step up to the Division I ranks at Marshall University (West Virginia) for a year; before returning to the DII ranks at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania for three seasons. Her first chance to oversee a program herself brought her west again to become the head women’s basketball coach at Western New Mexico University.
After four years, Ezell saw the chance to return to Arizona as a head coach when PC’s women’s head basketball coaching position came open, and the rest-as they say-is history. In her five years as head coach (spending the last two of those as Assistant Athletic Director of Student Affairs and Academics as well), Ezell led the Bears to a pair of Region I Playoff appearances on the court, and five straight appearances on the NJCAA All-Academic Team list off it. The desire to expand on that same academic success prompted Ezell to become the Bears’ Interim Athletic Director in 2010, shedding the ‘interim’ title the next year.
Since then, she’s continued to keep PC Athletics as the trailblazer of the MCCCD Athletic Departments, becoming the driving force behind PC’s Student-Athlete Scholastic Success (SASS) Program, which has greatly improved the grades and overall academic success of PC’s 250-plus student-athletes under her tutelage. Ezell also helped spearhead the construction of the Center for Athletic Victory & Education (known as the ‘CAVE’), the facility next to the gym building at PC that gives student-athletes a place to study, do homework, work on computers and receive tutoring to ensure their two-year degree. Ezell has also expanded the athletic department staff to include the district’s first-ever full-time sports information director and athletic student success coach within the last 2 years. Ezell’s drive to keep athletic and academic success for student-athletes isn’t just limited to PC, since she’s been the NJCAA Region I Women’s Assistant Director since 2009, and is currently the president of the MCCCD’s District Athletic Committee as well as President-Elect for the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.
Ezell holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University as well as a Master’s of Education degree with an emphasis on Diversity from Bloomsburg University. When not shaping the lives of PC student-athletes, she dotes on (and shapes the lives of) her seven-year-old daughter Tiegan, and her three-year-old son, Kaiyan.