Coach Jason Gillespie Bids Farewell to Bluefield College
After four extremely successful seasons -- which included 23 wins a year, three straight National Tournament appearances, two conference titles, and two Coach of the Year awards -- Bluefield College head men's basketball coach Jason Gillespie is bidding farewell to the Ramblin' Rams.
June 1, 2009
Gillespie, who took the BC men's basketball program to new heights in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), will be leaving Bluefield to become the head men's basketball coach and athletics director for Cincinnati Christian University, who approached him about the move just one month ago.
Gillespie came to BC in the fall of 2005, and during his four seasons as head coach he collected 92 wins and just 41 losses for an outstanding 70 percent winning percentage. During that same time, the BC coach accumulated 60 wins versus just 14 losses in the Appalachian Athletic Conference for a remarkable 81 percent winning proportion.
"I have been very blessed to have the opportunity to coach some outstanding individuals both on and off the court," said Gillespie about his success at BC. "Bluefield College is obviously a place where a coach can bring in the right type of talent to have success. The student-athletes that we have had in our program deserve a ton of recognition for their accomplishments, and I am proud to have been associated with them. We have been good because of their abilities and the talent of our assistant coaches here."
His 2005-2009 tenure with Bluefield also included two regular season Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) championships in 2007 and 2009, the latter as a result of a perfect 18-0 record in the AAC, along with three straight NAIA Division II National Tournament appearances, 2007-2009, and two AAC Coach of the Year honors in 2007 and 2009.
"College coaches are as good as their players and coaching staff," said Gillespie. "If Bluefield College was not a quality higher educational institution, we would not have an opportunity to be successful on the court. The administration here, from President David Olive to Athletic Director Ewell Vernon, have been very supportive and very influential to our success. The other coaches at BC are high quality coaches and individuals, and I have learned a ton from being around them. They, along with the staff and educators here, have helped make BC a very positive working environment."
During all four seasons with the Rams, Gillespie improved the team's win-loss record. In 2005-2006, BC went 19-14 overall and 13-7 in conference play. In 2006-2007, the team went 21-12 overall and 14-4 in the AAC. In 2007-2008, the Rams posted a 25-8 overall mark with a 15-3 record in the AAC. Last season, the team went 27-7 overall with a perfect 18-0 record in conference play.
"As athletic director, I am torn in my emotions over Jason's departure," said Vernon. "First, I am happy because this is an amazing opportunity for him, but on the other hand Jason is an amazing coach who will be very hard to replace. His four years at Bluefield College will leave a mark that will never be forgotten. He will be missed tremendously."
In addition to the regular season conference title and a bid to play in the NAIA National Tournament, the 2008-2009 Rams climbed as high as seventh in the nation under Gillespie -- the highest ranking ever in an NAIA poll for BC men's basketball. The team also put together a 17-game winning streak during the season, the longest streak for any NAIA-DII school. In addition, the Rams led the nation in scoring at 92 points per game.
We truly hate to see Jason leave us, but we all know this is a great opportunity for him," Dr. Olive said. "He has been a great coach, leader and mentor for our players and men's basketball program. We wish him well, and we look forward to successfully identifying a successor who can continue the positive program development initiated by Jason."
Gillespie will return to Cincinnati Christian University in Ohio, a program he led for two years before coming to Bluefield College and a school who wanted him back for more than just coaching.
"I am excited about the new challenge of being an athletic director," said Gillespie about his added duties with CCU. "It is an opportunity to expand my responsibility. During my first stint at Cincinnati Christian I was the assistant athletic director; so I have a little bit of experience there. I am sure I will be on the phone to Ewell a ton trying to get things figured out."
During his first stint as a coach with CCU, Gillespie tallied a 39-30 overall record in two seasons with the Eagles, a Division II member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Both years he led CCU to regular season NCCAA Mid-East Regional Championships and bids to play in the NCCAA Division II National Tournament. During both seasons, he also earned NCCAA Mid-East Coach of the Year honors.
Now, as Cincinnati Christian competes as a Division II member of the NAIA through an affiliation with the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Gillespie hopes he can continue his winning ways.
"Of course we want to have the same type of success at CCU that we have had here at Bluefield," said Gillespie. "As a coach, there has never been a game I have gone in wanting to lose, and that will remain the case. I hope that we have done things here the right way and represented Bluefield College in a positive light. I'm biased, but I truly feel we have. We want to continue being able to put a quality team on the court, and now as an AD, quality teams."
Gillespie and his wife, Cindy, and their son Keilan, 5, will make their way to Ohio in July.