Champaign, Ill. (UI Release) -- Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly has announced the hiring of Dan Conners as an assistant coach. Conners comes to Illinois after serving on the staff of a pair of elite programs in Nebraska and UCLA.
"We're really excited about adding Dan to the program," Hambly said. "He's coached at a high level for some great coaches the last several years and understands what it takes to win at that level. More importantly, I feel like he fits us culturally."
"This is a great opportunity to work with Kevin, who has established himself as one of the top coaches in the game," Conners said. "This team has players that have been to the NCAA finals and know what it takes to get there and some young guns coming in to fill some roles. I am humbled for the chance to work with the incredible staff and players at Illinois. It's a place where I can see myself and my family being happy for a while."
Conners spent the 2011 season as an assistant for John Cook at Nebraska, helping the Huskers to the Big Ten title in their first season in the league. Conners was the recruiting coordinator and defensive coordinator for a team that led the conference in opponent hitting percentage.
Prior to his stint in Lincoln, Conners worked alongside head coaches Andy Banachowski and Mike Sealy at UCLA from 2006-10. He played a role in recruiting the players to UCLA that won the 2011 national title, defeating Illinois in the championship match.
In his five years, UCLA compiled a 124-44 record and made five trips to the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the 2006 national semifinals and the 2007 Elite Eight.
Conners helped engineer the blocking and defensive schemes at UCLA as well, resulting in the Bruins leading the the Pac-10 in blocks three times (2006, 2008 and 2009) and holding opponents to a .187 hitting percentage or worse each year.
Conners began his coaching career at Cal State Northridge, where he was the top assistant for head coach Jeff Campbell's men's team from 2004-06. In those three years, the Matadors compiled a 56-36 record. He also was the head coach of the Southern California Volleyball Club Boys Under-18 team, the Sportsshack Volleyball Club Girls U-15 and -16 teams, and a coach for the West Coast Volleyball Club.
Conners graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in political science from UCLA in 2001 after setting for four Bruins teams that reached the national championship match. UCLA won titles in 1998 and 2000 and finished runner-up in 1997 and 2001.
He played professionally in Spain as a setter for the Almoradi Volleyball Club in 2001-02, leading the club to first place in its league during the regular season and to the semifinals of the playoffs.
Conners has a wife, Becky, a son, Wyatt, and a stepson, Mason.
Conners replaces David Kniffin, who left to take the head men's volleyball position at UC-Irvine.