BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – With 293 career wins and 11 postseason trips as a head coach to his credit, Rick Stansbury has been named the 15th head men’s basketball coach at Western Kentucky University, Director of Athletics Todd Stewart announced on Monday, March 28. A formal press conference to introduce Stansbury (pictured during the SEC tournament) was held Monday inside the Jack and Jackie Harbaugh Club at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.
Stansbury, a Battletown, Ky., native and a graduate of Campbellsville University, comes to WKU following two years at 2015-16 Southeastern Conference co-regular season champion Texas A&M, which included a run to the 2016 NCAA Sweet 16. In his 30 seasons as a head coach or an assistant coach, Stansbury’s teams have gone to the postseason 18 times, with Top 5 seeds in the NCAA Tournament in 2016 (3), 2004 (2), 2003 (5), 2002 (3), 1996 (5) and 1995 (5) and in the NIT in 2012 (4), 2010 (1), and 2007 (1). The veteran head coach made his name over a 22-year run at Mississippi State, including the final 14 as head coach (1999-2012), where he compiled a career record of 293-166 (.638), led the Bulldogs to the postseason 11 times, with six NCAA appearances, and became Mississippi State’s all-time wins leader in the process. In his two seasons in College Station, working for head coach Billy Kennedy, Stansbury helped the Aggie coaching staff sign a consensus top-10 recruiting class, a class regarded as one of the best in school history, in 2015. This past season, with Stansbury serving as associate head coach, the Aggies set a school record for wins with 28 after a 21-12 campaign and third place SEC finish in his first season. Texas A&M’s run to the Sweet 16 was the deepest the Aggies have advanced in the tournament in program history.
During Stansbury’s final 10 years leading the Bulldogs, only Kentucky won more SEC championships than his eight, and over his entire 14-year run at the helm, only Kentucky and Florida won more games. His 293 career victories are the ninth-most in SEC history. The Bulldogs won the SEC tournament in 2002 and 2009, the overall SEC championship in 2004 and dominated the league’s Western Division during Stansbury’s tenure, winning the side in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. His teams were also postseason regulars, appearing in the NCAA Tournament or NIT 11 of his 14 seasons as MSU’s head coach including trips to the NCAA tournament in four consecutive seasons (2002-2005) and consecutive appearances in 2008 and 2009 with NIT trips in 1999, 2001, 2007, 2010 and 2012. Including his time as an assistant, Mississippi State went to the postseason 15 times in 22 seasons. Seven Bulldogs earned All-America honors, 23 were named All-SEC (11 first teamers), and he posted 20 or more wins in 10 seasons during his 14-year run as head coach. Prior to Stansbury taking over as head coach, MSU had just seven postseason tournament appearances and won at least 20 games just seven times in the school’s previous 86 years of basketball competition. Stansbury is, in every essence of the word, a winner. Off the court, Stansbury’s program graduated players at a rate never before seen at Mississippi State. Over his time as head coach, only Vanderbilt had a higher graduation rate in the SEC, and the Bulldogs were third in the SEC with 41 academic honorees in 14 years. Fans also came out in droves in Starkville to watch Stansbury’s Bulldogs play. Of the Top 30 most attended games in MSU history, 26 came during Stansbury’s run as head coach including all of the Top 10. He remains the only coach in MSU history to average more than 10,000 fans per game in SEC play (2003-04/10,209), and his Bulldogs played in front of an average of over 7,000 fans per night in six of his 14 seasons as head coach. Stansbury also brings to WKU a national reputation of success as evidenced by his 2004 SEC Associated Press Coach of the Year, finalist for National Coach of the Year, and District 17 NABC Coach of the Year awards. During the 2003-04 season, Stansbury’s Bulldogs ranked as high as No. 4 in the AP poll and finished No. 8 that year, their third consecutive Top 25 finish in the final AP poll. As a recruiter, Stansbury is no stranger to sending players to the NBA ranks. Since 1996, Stansbury has nine lottery picks including the 5th overall pick in the 1999 Draft, Jonathan Bender (Toronto), the 10th overall pick in the 1996 Draft, Erick Dampier (Indiana), and Parade All-American and 2005’s 40th overall pick, Monta Ellis (Golden State). Over a nine-year period in Starkville (2003-11), Stansbury signed five different top-20 recruiting classes. His 2005 class was rated the sixth-best nationally by Rivals.com while his final class in the spring of 2011 was No. 12 nationally by the outlet. The Class of 2015 at Texas A&M was rated No. 8 nationally by Rivals.com. Before going to Starkville, Stansbury spent six seasons as an assistant at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. Working alongside the late Lake Kelly, APSU recorded three consecutive winning seasons including an Ohio Valley Conference tournament championship and NCAA Tournament second-round berth in 1986-87. His 16-year career as an assistant prior to the MSU head coaching post began at his alma mater during the 1981-82 season as he worked toward earning a double major in business and physical education. He then moved on to work for Randy Vernon at Cumberland in Williamsburg where he earned his master’s in Business Education. In 1983-84, the team went 31-5 and earned a second-round appearance in the NAIA Tournament. In October 1999, Stansbury was honored by the Campbellsville Alumni Association as a proud recipient of the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Stansbury’s connection to WKU goes back well before his hiring as head coach to his great uncle, Edgar B. Stansbury, a 1994 WKU Athletics Hall of Famer as a three-sport athlete (baseball, basketball, football), football assistant coach under W.L. “Gander” Terry, and Director of Athletics in 1946 after serving his country in World War II. The concourse inside E.A. Diddle Arena is named in E.B. Stansbury’s honor. Stansbury is married to the former Meo Mellen of Roanoke, Va. The couple has three sons, Isaac, Noah and Luke. THE RICK STANSBURY FILE PERSONAL Born: December 23, 1959 (56 years old) Hometown: Battletown, Ky. High School: Meade County, ‘77 College: Campbellsville, ‘81 Wife: Meo Children: Isaac, Noah, Luke COACHING CAREER 1981-82: Campbellsville (student assistant) 1983-84: Cumberland (graduate assistant) 1985-90: Austin Peay (assistant coach) 1990-94: Mississippi State (assistant coach) 1994-98: Mississippi State (associate head coach) 1998-2012: Mississippi State (head coach) 2014-15: Texas A&M (assistant coach) 2015-16: Texas A&M (associate head coach) 2016-17: WKU (head coach) CAREER ACCOLADES Championships: SEC Western Conference Championships (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010); SEC Tournament Champions (2002, 2009); Overall SEC Champion (2004)
Postseason Experience As a head coach: NCAA (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009), NIT (1999, 2001, 2007, 2010, 2012); As an assistant: NCAA (1987, 1991, 1995 – Sweet 16, 1996 – Final Four, 2016 – Sweet 16), NIT (1990, 1994)
Awards: SEC Coach of the Year (2004), District 17 NABC Coach of the Year (2004)
Photos by Jamie H. Vaught & WKU Athletics