Leatherwood_Candice_shuwomensbbaSiena Heights University leadership recently announced the promotion of Sue Syljebeck as the new Vice President of Athletics. Additionally, SHU has announced hiring Candice Leatherwood, a Siena Heights Graduate College alum, as the new head women’s basketball coach.

Syljebeck has been with Siena Heights University since 2004, joining the Saints as the seventh head coach in the history of the women’s basketball program. In May 2019, she was named interim Athletic Director and then in January 2020, she accepted the official position as the university’s athletic director while continuing her coaching responsibilities. Now, she has moved into a new role: the Vice President of Athletics.

Syljebeck’s position as Vice President of Athletics will allow her to increase focus on expanding Siena Heights’ athletic offerings, effectively fundraise for the athletic programs, and contribute valuable insights to the executive leadership team.

“Sue consistently demonstrates her commitment and love for the Siena Heights University community,” noted Dr. Douglas Palmer, Ph.D., President of Siena Heights University. “I am extremely excited about the future of our athletic programs, which continue to shine bright with her guidance. I have been very impressed with the continued insights Sue has to offer the leadership team at Siena Heights.”

Throughout her tenure as head women’s basketball coach, Syljebeck has had seven appearances at the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Tournament, with their most recent appearance happening in the 2023-24 season. In March 2014, Syljebeck’s team advanced to the Sweet 16 round in the NAIA Tournament. Syljebeck finishes her time in the coaching profession after tying the school’s single-season record with 27 wins in 2023-24; she won 20 games in the WHAC her final year – the most in program history.

Additionally, Syljebeck has the most career wins in the program’s history with a career record of 386-233 record. She holds the highest winning percentage in SHU history at this point in her career with a mark of .624. She is also the most successful women’s basketball coach in league play, boasting a 231-130 record (.640-win percentage) in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. She has coached several NAIA First, Second, and Third-Team All-Americans, and six players have been Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-America honorable mentions under Syljebeck’s tenure. Saints’ women have won three WHAC Player of the Year awards and two Newcomer of the Year accolades under Syljebeck.

As Athletic Director, Syljebeck helped launch multiple new athletic programs, bringing on Men’s and Women’s Wrestling, and Stunt in 2023, as well as Women’s Flag Football beginning in 2025. She also helped the athletic department navigate COVID-19 protocols and precautions and managed to continue athletic events amidst the pandemic.

Stated Syljebeck, “I am thankful for the opportunity Dr. Palmer has offered me and am excited to be a part of the executive leadership team. I look forward to advancing the athletic department even further and creating more fundraising opportunities.”

As Syljebeck prepared to step into the Vice President of Athletics role, the need for a new head women’s basketball coach arose. Recently, Syljebeck announced the hiring of Candice Leatherwood as the new head coach for the women’s basketball program.

Leatherwood expressed her excitement and commitment to the program, stating, “I am deeply honored to lead this talented group of women. Our focus will be on fostering a culture of excellence, both on and off the court. I am eager to build on the team’s strong foundation and guide them to new heights.”

Leatherwood joins Siena Heights University following a three-year stint at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where she served as the assistant coach to the women’s basketball program. Leatherwood graduated from Sacred Heart University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, where she was also a member of the women’s basketball team. After completing her undergraduate education, Leatherwood attended Siena Heights University and graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration in 2021. She served as a graduate assistant for the women’s basketball program and was the head coach of the JV team during that time.

At Siena Heights University, Leatherwood was responsible for guard development, scouting reports, recruiting, game scheduling and transportation for the JV squad, and more. In addition, Leatherwood was part of the staff that helped set the school record for most wins in a season and assisted in coaching a two-time WHAC Player of the Year and four All-Conference WHAC players.

After obtaining her master’s degree, Leatherwood returned to Sacred Heart University as an assistant coach and assisted the team with defensive development, handled incoming freshmen compliance and applications, developed the guards, and assisted in scouting, game and practice planning, on-court coaching, and skill development. Under her leadership, Leatherwood coached two-time players of the year (Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year), as well as helping four athletes earn selections to the Northeast Conference Teams. In 2023 and 2024, Sacred Heart University took home the title as the regular season champions and Northeast Conference champions. In those same years, Sacred Heart had First Four appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

“I am extremely excited for Candice to lead our program into the next chapter. With Candice formerly on staff, she will be able to take a part of what we have done here in the past 20 years as well as bring her own leadership style and philosophy to make it even better. Candice has a passion for young adults and basketball and is a great teacher,” said Vice President of Athletics

Sue Syljebeck. “Her history demonstrates how the programs she works vastly improve, and I know Siena Heights women’s basketball program will be in good hands.”