COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Mike Sutton, an assistant coach at the University
of Kentucky who has spent much of his career working alongside the highly
successful Tubby Smith, has been selected as the new men's basketball coach at Tennessee Tech University.
The announcement was made by Dr. David Larimore, Tech athletics director, during a public event Friday morning in Eblen Center.
Sutton will begin his new assignment immediately, with recruiting, getting familiar with his players, putting a coaching staff in place, and directing the popular Golden Eagle Summer Basketball Camps as his first priorities.
"We are very excited about Mike Sutton heading up our men's basketball program," said Tech president Bob Bell. "Throughout his entire career he has not only been a successful coach, but proven that he is also committed to outstanding academics."
Sutton is currently in his fifth season as an assistant coach at Kentucky, where his duties include on-floor coaching and off-campus recruiting.
He helped lead UK to three Southeastern Conference regular season championships and three SEC tournament titles. The team played in the NCAA tournament all five seasons, and won the national title in 1998 with a 35-4 record.
In all, during his nine seasons of collegiate coaching, Sutton has helped take teams to nine NCAA tournament appearances.
"In Mike Sutton, you will find a man who invokes an image of integrity, class and enthusiasm," said UK head coach Tubby Smith. "Mike's work ethic, character and desire to be successful will all serve him well, and he
understands that academics must be the first priority of the students. He is a true "team player" and he will bring an uptempo style of play in a well-coached system that will be fun to watch. His teams will be disciplined on and off the court."
Sutton met with the returning Golden Eagle players during his on-campus
visit earlier in the week.
"One of the things that impressed me the most was the team or family
atmosphere at the school," Sutton said. "Everyone was very supportive of the program and showed a genuine interest in the players.
"The young men in the program are a great group and I am really looking
forward to coaching them," Sutton added, "I was really impressed by their
attitude and the way they are respected by the people associated with the
athletic department and the school."
Sutton inherits a team that has won back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference
championships and posted a 27-7 overall record while reaching the Elite Eight of the National Invitation Tournament in 2001-2002.
"I hope to continue to build on the things that have already been accomplished at Tech by coach Lebo, coach Harrell and the most important people in any program, the players," Sutton said. "And, by players, I am including every one who has ever worn the purple and gold for teams from Putty Overall to Jeff Lebo.
"Tennessee Tech students, staff, alumni, fans and the Cookeville community can look forward to exciting times in the future as the Golden Eagle basketball team continues to build on the Tennessee Tech tradition," he said.
Larimore said the pool of applicants for the position included an impressive list of candidates.
"We had outstanding applicants to choose from," Larimore said. "The position of head basketball coach at Tennessee Tech has become a very
attractive position, and we're excited about Mike Sutton heading up the
A 1978 graduate of East Carolina University, Sutton has worked alongside Smith for the past nine years, including two at Tulsa, two at Georgia and five at Kentucky.
Sutton's 27-year coaching background has crossed paths with Smith on numerous occasions, at both the high school and college levels.
Sutton began coaching as an assistant at his high school alma mater,
D.H. Conley High School, while attending East Carolina. After spending the
1978-79 season as an assistant coach at Lees-McRae (N.C.) Junior College, he was hired by Smith as an assistant for the 1979-80 season at Hoke County High School in Raeford, N.C. Before the season began, Smith left for an assistant's position at Virginia Commonwealth, leaving Sutton behind, but only temporarily. The next year, the two were reunited as assistants at VCU, helping the Rams advance to the 1981 NCAA Tournament.
Sutton then left the college ranks and became head coach at Meadowbrook
High School in Richmond, Va., taking over a downtrodden program that had
tallied a 1-19 record the previous season. He turned the program around during his 13-year career from 1981-94, leading the team to the Class AAA State Championship in his final season. His coaching efforts earned him The Associated Press Coach of the Year award for 1993-94. He compiled a 176-122 record at Meadowbrook before re-joining Smith at Tulsa.
Including Kentucky, he has had five coaching stops with Smith.
Born March 21, 1956 in Farmville, N.C., Mike and his wife, Karen, have
two married children - Kelly Kern of Baltimore and Scott Hughes of Gulfport,
Fla. Their first grandchild, Grace Sutton Kern, was born last June. He received his bachelor's degree in Health and Physical Education from
East Carolina University in 1978, and his master's degree in Science, Health
and Physical Education from Appalachian State University in 1979.
Sutton hired as new Tennessee Tech coach
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