Vanderbilt Names Mark Byington Head Basketball Coach

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After leading James Madison to its most successful four-season stretch in over 30 years, highlighted by a victory in the NCAA Tournament last weekend, Mark Byington was named men’s basketball head coach at Vanderbilt Monday by Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee.

Byington will be officially introduced at a news conference on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium. The event will be available on SECNetwork+ and the department’s YouTube channel and will be open to the general public.

“Vanderbilt is getting an extraordinary coach and person in Mark Byington. 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,” Lee said. “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. He has proven his ability to turn programs around at Georgia Southern and James Madison by working tirelessly and communicating a shared vision.

“I could not be more excited about the future of our men’s basketball program.”

“At Vanderbilt, we challenge ourselves to seek excellence in everything we do through hard work and collaboration,” Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “Hiring Mark Byington demonstrates our commitment to helping student-athletes reach the full heights of their athletic potential while also fostering their lifelong learning and growth. I congratulate Coach Byington and commend Vice Chancellor Lee for bringing to Vanderbilt someone whose record of mentoring champions embodies our university values.”

Byington opened 2023-24 by leading the Dukes to a victory at No. 4 Michigan State, as they would spend eight weeks in the Associated Press top 25 poll throughout the course of the season. He would go on to lead the school to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship, a win over fifth-seeded Wisconsin in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and a 32-4 overall record. After taking over a program that had recorded four straight losing seasons, Byington guided James Madison to an 82-36 mark over the next four seasons.

He was voted the Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year after helping the Dukes to the 2020-21 regular season championship, and then—after the school switched affiliations to the Sun Belt Conference—guided the school to a 9-2 nonconference victory during the 2021-22 campaign highlighted by victories over Virginia and Florida Atlantic. The following season, his efforts helped James Madison record the highest NET ranking in program history as he was voted the Virginia State Coach of the Year after leading the Dukes to a 22-11 finish.

Over the last two seasons, Byington had James Madison ranked among the national leaders in scoring offense after averaging better than 80 points per game.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be the head men’s basketball coach at Vanderbilt University. I know Commodore fans are eager for success and we will get there together,” said Byington. “I was blown away by the passion and enthusiasm of Vice Chancellor and Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee and Chancellor Daniel Diermeier. We share the same vision that Vanderbilt basketball belongs as one of the nation’s elite programs. I look forward to meeting the fans, alumni, students and all of Commodore Nation. Our time is coming. Get ready!!!”

Prior to his stint at James Madison, Byington was head coach at Georgia Southern for seven seasons where he guided the Eagles to four 20-win campaigns—including each of the last three, the first time for the program in 30 years—before moving to James Madison. He inherited a team that had suffered seven consecutive losing seasons and led it to the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament his first season in charge, then helped the Eagles to a 22-9 mark, a runner-up finish in the Sun Belt Conference standings and a berth in the Sun Belt Tournament championship game the following year after a transition in leagues. After helping Georgia Southern move up 184 spots in the RPI that season, the biggest improvement in the nation, Byington was named the NABC District 24 Coach of the Year.

He would lead the Eagles to a 21-12 finish in 2017-18, including a win over Wake Forest, then guide the program to its highest RPI ever, second place in the Sun Belt standings and a 21-12 mark the following season. In 2019-20, Byington helped Georgia Southern to a 20-13 record and the semifinals of the Sun Belt Tournament before the remainder of the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to posting a 131-97 mark overall in charge at Georgia Southern, he helped Tookie Brown become the first member of the program to be named the Sun Belt Player of the Year and first individual in league history to be selected first-team all-conference four times.

Before taking over at Georgia Southern, Byington was an assistant coach at Virginia Tech during the 2012-13 season. He served two different stints on the staff at Charleston, first as assistant coach from 2002-04 and then as assistant and associate head coach from 2005-12. During his time with the program, the Cougars went 194-100 overall including 108-51 in Southern Conference action. Byington also has experience as a graduate assistant (1999-01) and director of operations (2004-05) at Virginia, and was an assistant coach at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy during the 2001-02 campaign.

A three-year starter at UNC Wilmington, Byington scored 1,088 points at the collegiate level and was named both second-team All-CAA and to the league’s All-Defensive Team as a senior. He received his bachelor’s degree in physical education from the school in 1998, and would go on the earn a master’s degree in sport psychology from Virginia in 2003.

Season tickets are not yet available for Vanderbilt’s 2024-25 campaign, but individuals interested in purchasing can CLICK HERE.

Source: Vanderbilt
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