Former ACC Standout and NCAA Coach Richard Morgan Named Head Coach at BC
Everyone knew it would be a significant challenge to replace Bluefield College head men's basketball coach Jason Gillespie, a two-time conference Coach of the Year who in four years led the Ramblin' Rams to three straight NAIA National Tournament appearances.
July 15, 2009
That's why the small private Christian college in southwest Virginia went looking for the cream of the crop in Richard Morgan, a coach with more than a decade of experience at the NCAA level, a player with a decorated career in the ACC, and an individual with roots in Virginia as a standout athlete at Salem High School.
During a press conference on campus in front of a room full of media, players, alumni, employees and friends, Bluefield College, a Division II member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), announced the hiring of Morgan as the new leader of its men's basketball team, a storied program with five NAIA National Tournament appearances in the last six years and more conference titles than any other team since the creation of the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
"Bluefield College has been blessed with some amazing coaches that put their heart and soul not only into their sport, but more so into the young men and women that they coach," said BC athletics director Ewell Vernon. "In Richard Morgan, we have found an individual that will continue to fulfill that mission. Coach Jason Gillespie's leadership took Bluefield College basketball to a new level, but we're excited about all the attributes that Coach Morgan brings to Bluefield College, and we look forward to having him as part of the BC family."
Morgan comes to Bluefield College after a three-year stint as an assistant coach at Appalachian State University, a Division I member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). While at ASU, Morgan helped coach the Mountaineers to a school record 25 wins in a season (2007), a National Invitational Tournament Appearance (2007), and back-to-back Southern Conference Championships (2007 and 2008).
"Richard is a quality individual," said former ASU head coach Houston Fancher. "He is a great teacher, a solid recruiter, and a terrific communicator."
Before Appalachian State, Morgan served three years as an associate head coach at Hampton University of the NCAA's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). At Hampton, he helped lead the Pirates to back-to-back conference championships (2005 and 2006), a MEAC Conference Tournament title (2006), and an NCAA Tournament appearance (2006). His stint at Hampton was the second of his career after serving as an assistant on the Pirates' bench from 1996-98.
Prior to returning to Hampton, Morgan spent five seasons (1998-2003) as an assistant at East Carolina University. A native of Salem, Virginia, he began his coaching career as a coach at Salem High School, his alma mater, where he helped lead his team to district, regional and state championships and also served as a paraprofessional for special education programs.
"We had some amazing individuals apply for this very important position, but Coach Morgan's credentials kept him at the top of the list," said Vernon. "There are volumes that can be said about him as a player, and there are already chapters being written on him as a coach, but words cannot express how wonderful he is as a person. Because Richard brings a humble and loving spirit that is paired with skill and knowledge, we are blessed with a phenomenal addition to the already quality staff we have at Bluefield College."
Morgan joined the coaching profession after an extremely successful career as both a professional and collegiate player. He was a three-year starter at guard for the University of Virginia, where he finished his career ranked sixth all-time in scoring with 1,540 career points and third all-time in steals with 160. Following the 1988-89 season, Morgan earned first team All-ACC honors and was named Honorable Mention All-America after leading the Cavaliers to an appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
After graduating from UVA in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in sports management, Morgan played professionally for two seasons with the Rockford Lightning and the Columbus Horizon of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and overseas with teams in Austria, Honduras, and the Philippines.
"This is a dream come true for me and my family," said Morgan. "I am very aware of the great tradition here at Bluefield College, and I look forward to the challenge of continuing that success."
Morgan and his wife, Sherelle, whose family is from Martinsville, Virginia, and their two sons, Nicholas, 10, and Kaleb, 5, will relocate to Bluefield from Boone, North Carolina, right away. The men's basketball team will open its season under Morgan's leadership at home against Barber-Scotia College on October 31.
The Rams will return seven lettermen, including rising senior Omar Reed, a 2009 AAC First Team All-Conference and NAIA Honorable Mention All-American recipient who helped lead last year's team to a 27-7 overall win-loss record and a perfect 18-0 mark in conference play en route to a number eight national ranking.
"I am extremely excited about the upcoming season," added Morgan. "My expectations are simple. I expect commitment, discipline, and effort. It's very difficult to replace a coach of the caliber of Jason Gillespie, who has displayed such a winning tradition, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."