Dave Richman - NDSU
In year one Richman captured an NCAA tourney bid and the most successful season by a DI rookie head coach. Year two is looking just as promising.
Craig Smith - South Dakota
Smith has taken over a proud USD program, and as its’ first hired Division I coach, has it moving to the top of the Summit! With a propensity for road wins, including a recent victory over Minnesota, Smith has the Coyotes primed for a run to the summit of the Summit!
Heath Schroyer - UT Martin
Schroyer took over one of the most difficult jobs in all of Division I at UT Martin. His response was the school’s 2nd 20-win season and 3 post-season wins.
Steve Pikiell - Stony Brook
Creating expectations through wins and recruiting, Pikiell simply make things happen. From last to first, he has successfully flipped the culture at what was once the worst team in all of college basketball.
Scott Sutton - Oral Roberts
This one team wonder has delivered his program to regular post season appearances in his nearly twenty-year tenure with Oral Roberts. Up next; the Sweet Sixteen???
Zach Spiker - Army
When Army tried to hire Steve Donahue away from Cornell in 2009, he politely declined and gave the military academy a piece of advice. He urged the Academy to hire his assistant, Zach Spiker. It has paid off! Like his bio on the website says, the 2013 Patriot League Coach of the Year has brought winning basketball back to the banks of the Hudson. Currently sitting at 10-4, he has no plans to let up!
Larry Hunter - Western Carolina
The long-time coach has rewritten the books at Western Carolina with plans for his first conference title before he retires. With a campus tucked away in little Cullowhee, NC, Hunter has to find diamonds-in-the-rough and assemble them into a fine-tuned machine; something he does quite well.
Pat Kelsey - Winthrop
While still hunting down that illusive post season opportunity, this servant-leader is steadily and intensely building Winthrop back to the top.
Steve Forbes - ETSU
Yes, it's early, as this is Forbes first season as a DI head coach...but is there doubt in ANYONE'S minds that he will be successful? He has won everywhere he has been!!! If gambling was legal in the NCAA, every coach in the country would bet on Forbes!
Joe Dooley - FGCU
With a winning upbringing stemming back to his high school days at St. Benedict’s, Dooley has been blessed and has maximized every opportunity. Replacing the great FGCU Cinderella year came with intense pressure. Nevertheless, Dooley has the experience and know-how to keep “Dunk-City” alive and well.
Matt McCall - Chattanooga
From the humble beginnings as student-manager, washing uniforms and setting up for practice, McCall worked feverishly, awaiting his opportunity. With a unique ability for skill development and player relationships, and experience as an assistant at FAU and Florida, McCall has arrived!
Dan Majerle - Grand Canyon
Having never finished lower than 3rd in his college coaching career, the former NBA great looks to build on this success and to celebrate with a night of dancing. He has already accomplished back to back CIT appearances. The NCAAs are chanting his name like his fans did not-so-long ago.
Scott Cherry - High Point
The former Tar-heel student-athlete who helped beat the famed “Fab Five” for a ‘93 NCAA National Championship has built High Point into a winner! A humble, family-man, Cherry has learned from some coaching legends and has proven he can run his own show!
Cliff Ellis - Coastal Carolina
20th all-time in DI wins with 692 heading into the 2015-16 season, Ellis holds the distinction of being the lone coach in NCAA DI history to win 150-plus games at four schools. Ellis has been honored as Coach of the Year in the SEC (1999), ACC (1987, 1990) and nationally by the AP (1999).
Will Brown - Albany
Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the beginning of his junior year of high school, Brown is not one to back down in the face of adversity. Today Brown has made Albany Basketball a nationally recognized name. Five NCAA tournament berths and 215 wins later, Brown has taken this challenge to never before seen heights.
Jay Spoonhour - Eastern Illinois
While struggling early this year, the son of coach Charlie Spoonhour can flat coach. His successes as interim head coach at UNLV and many wins at the JUCO level (including a National Championship) have prepared him for the challenges of one of the more difficult jobs in Division I basketball. Spoonhour lead his Panthers to the post season last year, and rest assure he will right the ship in 2016.
Jim Engles - NJIT
What Engles has done transitioning New Jersey Institute of Technology to Division 1 is remarkable! Recruiting to a school with a name that sounds like an online trucking certification program and a middle-school gym is impossible. Unless your head coach is Engles. He has proven that his team is capable of competing with top programs through quality wins and their first ever D1 post-season tournament.
Marvin Menzies - New Mexico State
In seven seasons as the head coach at New Mexico State, Marvin Menzies has won 63% percent of his games and led the Aggies to four NCAA tournament appearances; the last three since 2012-13. Learning from the best in Kruger, Pitino, and Fisher, he is now blending his own philosophies with those of his mentors…and it is DEFINITELY working!
Andy Toole - Robert Morris
When conference play rolls around, Andy Toole simply wins. 66 and 23 in NEC play since 2010. His teams have never finished lower than third in conference. He is young, passionate, and a piping-hot coaching commodity.
LeVelle Moton - NCCU
This guy knows how to win with a 70% rate. Moton has branded NCCU as a legitimate Division I program in a short time, after many years at the D2 level. He has set an expectation of MEAC championships and post-season appearances, and has never lost sight of his personal and team integrity or how he got to where he is today. Campaigning across the country, Coach Moton represents his alma-mater with ultimate pride and a true family culture.
Mike Young - Wofford
Like most Terriers, Mike is energetic, determined, passionate and independent. Feisty as a dog, Wofford led his pack to 3 straight postseason appearances and was named Coach of the Year by several publications. His devotion to the school and his student-athletes is undeniable.
Bob Hoffman - Mercer
Over 450 career wins; back-to-back Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year (2013-14); 2014 Atlantic Sun Conference regular season and tournament champions; coached the first NCA tournament victory in program history (2014 over Duke); Coach Hoffman continually takes Mercer to the next level!
Scott Nagy - South Dakota State
His process of recruiting the “right fit” to establish his program on and off the court is what makes him successful. Opposing coaches never look forward to seeing Nagy’s team on the schedule, as they know they are in for a war. Scott Nagy is gaining well deserved respect from the basketball community and is primed for a deep tournament run in the near future.
Brad Underwood – SFA
Noticeably, for Underwood, coaching is a labor of love. Cutting his teeth at the JUCO level, his name is now linked to openings every spring, but so far, has elected to continue building SFA. With mid-western values and a belief that there is a distinct relationship between hard work and success, Under-wood is now longer Under-the radar.
Rick Byrd - Belmont
In his 28 seasons, Rick has lead the Belmont Bruins to back-to-back Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament titles, along with multiple NCAA appearances. More impressively, he guided Belmont through NAIA to NCAA D1 transition and continued to win at a high level. Byrd is a “coach’s coach” and has built and sustained low-major power in Nashville.
Voted on by our national panel of media, scouts, and coaches, below is our first ranking of 2016, the Top 25 low-major head coaches. Summit, OVC, Southern, Big South, Big Sky, NEC, America East, Southland, Atlantic Sun, WAC, MEAC, and SWAC head coaches were eligible for this category.