Vanderbilt hires Mark Byington away from James Madison to replace Stackhouse

Mon, Mar 25, 2024
NCAAB News (AP)

Vanderbilt hires Mark Byington away from James Madison to replace Stackhouse

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Vanderbilt hired Mark Byington away from James Madison just three days after he led the Dukes to a first-round upset of Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament.

School officials at Vanderbilt announced the hiring Monday. Byington will be officially introduced at a Thursday afternoon news conference at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym.

The 47-year-old Byington replaces Jerry Stackhouse, who was fired after going 70-92 in five seasons. Byington owns a 220-137 record in 11 seasons as a head coach, including an 82-36 mark the last four seasons at James Madison.

"From our first conversations, Coach Byington impressed me with his competitiveness, his intensity, his passion for developing young men on and off the court, his love for the game, and his plan to elevate Vanderbilt men's basketball to new levels of success," Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Story Lee said in a statement. "I was struck by the shared passion that we have for what this basketball program can be and for all that is possible at this great institution. I was also impressed with Mark's approach to building an elite culture and his desire to fully immerse himself in all corners of Commodore Nation."

Vanderbilt announced the hiring one day after James Madison's season ended with a 93-55 loss to Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. James Madison, the No. 12 seed in the South Region, had reached the second round for the first time since 1983 after defeating Wisconsin 72-61 on Friday.

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"We hired Mark Byington in 2020 with the hope of finding the right fit for JMU and reinvigorating and revitalizing our men's basketball program," James Madison athletic director Jeff Bourne said in a statement. "Without a doubt, he accomplished that with flying colors, redefining the trajectory of JMU men's basketball, matching the culture of our university and positioning James Madison to be a mainstay on the national scene. I am grateful to Mark for his dedication to our institution and wish him well on his next move."

Byington now takes over a Vanderbilt program that hasn't reached the NCAA Tournament since 2017. The Commodores earned five NCAA bids in a six-year stretch from 2007-12 under Kevin Stallings, but have reached the tournament just twice since.

Vanderbilt went 9-23 this year, which represented a steep fall after Stackhouse led the Commodores to a 22-13 mark and an NIT appearance last season. Vanderbilt has gone just 34-90 in Southeastern Conference competition over the last seven seasons as fans increasingly stayed away from home games.

Attendance topped 10,000 at Memorial Gym only twice this season, when fans of the road teams helped fill the building in games against Tennessee and Kentucky. Vanderbilt averaged 6,785 spectators per game. Vanderbilt currently is building new basketball offices and a practice gym for the men's program.

"I know Commodore fans are eager for success, and we will get there together," Byington said in a statement released by Vanderbilt.

Byington has shown an ability to turn programs around.

He began his head coaching career by taking over a Georgia Southern program that had suffered through seven straight losing seasons. Byington went 131-97 with four 20-win seasons in seven years at Georgia Southern.

Byington then came to James Madison, which went 9-21 the season before his arrival. James Madison went 13-7 in Byington's first year, 15-14 in 2021-22, 22-11 last season and 32-4 this year.

"He has proven his ability to turn programs around at Georgia Southern and James Madison by working tirelessly and communicating a shared vision," Lee said. "I could not be more excited about the future of our men's basketball program."

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