SEWANEE, Tenn. - Announced by Director of Athletics Mark Webb on Tuesday, Mick Hedgepeth has stepped down to join the coaching staff at Belmont University. Brian Emerson has been tabbed as the next head coach of the men's basketball program at the University of the South.
Hedgepeth will return to his alma mater, Belmont University, an NCAA Division I institution. He will serve as the Director of Basketball Operations under new head coach Casey Alexander, who takes over as the head coach of the Bruins, replacing legendary coach Rick Byrd.
Webb released a statement on Hedgepeth: I am truly grateful for Mick's leadership of our men's basketball program. I certainly understand his desire to return to his Alma mater, and he goes with our deepest appreciation and our very best wishes.
In two seasons at the helm of the men's basketball program, Hedgepeth led the Tigers to a 36-18 record and the 2019 Southern Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament Championship. With a .667 winning percentage, Hedgepeth holds the highest winning percentage for a head coach in the program's 95-year history.
Finishing in third place during the regular season, Sewanee won the 2019 Tournament crown on a game-winning three-pointer by Michael Barry to give the Purple and Gold its first Southern Athletic Association Tournament championship and the first for the program since 1997.
In addition, he led the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1998 season.
He helped the Tigers to six All-SAA Selections, two to the D3hoops.Com South Region Team and two to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) South District Team. In addition, he saw a student-athlete named the SAA Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year during his tenure.
Hedgepeth released a statement:
I am incredibly thankful to Vice Chancellor McCardell and Athletic Director Webb for providing me the opportunity to be the head men's basketball coach at the University of the South. During my three years on the Mountain, I have grown so much as a coach and a person, largely due to being surrounded by so many good people. The Sewanee community is truly special.
As excited as I am to be returning to my alma mater, it is very difficult to leave the outstanding young men in this program. I love these players and would not be in this position if it were not for them. I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to build and accomplish as a team. The 2018-19 season was extraordinary and has given me memories I will cherish for a lifetime.
Brian Emerson will assume the duties as the head men's basketball coach effective immediately. Emerson is the 24th head coach for the men's basketball team at the University.
Serving as an assistant coach for the past two seasons, this will be the third year for Emerson with the men's basketball program. He was a member of the coaching staff that saw Sewanee win its first conference championship in over 20 years.
Emerson has been a part of two very strong defensive teams nationally with the Tigers. During the 2019 season, the program finished the season ranked fifth in defensive three-point field goal shooting (29.6%) 34th in scoring defense (66.7) and 39th in defensive field goal percentage (40.6%).
In 2018, the Tigers led the conference in defensive field goal shooting percentage (40.5%) and finished 30th out of 416 NCAA Division III teams. However, behind the arc, the Tigers were even better, as they led the nation in defensive three-point field goal shooting percentage (27.5%).
Webb had this to say on Emerson: While Brian has capably served as an assistant coach for the past two seasons, he has played much more than a supporting role. He has been instrumental in our team's recent success that led to an NCAA Tournament appearance and acquired exceptional playing and coaching experiences at Williams College, MIT and Sewanee. I am highly confident that our basketball program will continue to thrive under Brian's leadership.
Emerson arrived at Sewanee after serving as an assistant coach at Williams College from 2015-17. While at Williams, the Ephs were 53-29, including a 23-9 mark in 2017. That season, the program earned a Final Four appearance while head coach Kevin App was named the 2017 Glenn Robinson National Coach of the Year.
In addition to his time with the varsity student-athletes, he also served as a head coach of the junior varsity program for the Ephs.
Prior to his return to Williams, Emerson served as an assistant coach during the 2013 season at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). That season, the Engineers finished 20-9, won the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) conference tournament and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
As a student-athlete at Williams, Emerson was part of two Final Four teams and one national finalist. His overall record while at Williams was 93-22. In his senior year, Emerson won the team sportsmanship award and the Mathew Godrick award. Playing under head coach Mike Maker, the four-time letterwinner graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology.
Emerson released this statement: I am incredibly humbled and honored to accept the position of Head Men's Basketball Coach at Sewanee. I want to thank Mark Webb and the entire athletic department for providing me with this opportunity and offering their support. The past two seasons working alongside Mick Hedgepeth have been an unbelievable learning experience and I am beyond excited to continue to push the program forward building on the foundation that has been created here on the Mountain.