(Photo and release courtesy of Tennessee Sports Information)
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee vice chancellor and director of athletics Dave Hart announced today the hiring of Donnie Tyndall as the 19th coach of Tennessee men’s basketball program.
The 43-year-old Tyndall joins Tennessee from Southern Mississippi, where he posted a 56-17 record (.767) in two seasons. He has averaged more than 21 wins during his eight seasons as a head coach with an overall record of 170-102 (.625), including six seasons at his alma mater, Morehead State, from 2006-07 through 2011-12. Tyndall played at MSU from 1990-93.
“We are excited to add Donnie Tyndall to the Tennessee family,” Hart said. “He has a proven track record of success and has won at every level at which he has coached. Donnie brings tremendous positive energy and a strong work ethic to this important leadership role, and we look forward to his impact on our men’s basketball program.”
Tyndall’s 2013-14 Golden Eagles squad posted a school-record 29 wins (29-7), a share of the regular season Conference USA championship, a perfect 15-0 home record and an RPI in the low 30s. Southern Miss played an up-tempo brand of basketball that ranked first or second in 2014 in C-USA in efficiency (110.0), points per possession (1.1), steals per game (8.2, 17th nationally), assists per game (14.1) and field-goal percentage (.463).
Attendance at Southern Miss home games rose 23 percent in Tyndall’s first season. And in his second year in Hattiesburg, season-ticket sales saw an additional spike of more than 20 percent.
“I am humbled, appreciative, and thankful for this tremendous opportunity,” Tyndall said. “We have great tradition at the University of Tennessee and with our men’s basketball program, and we will work tirelessly to take our program to new heights.”
Tyndall took over at Southern Miss after leading Morehead State to a 114-85 record (.573), including a 70-40 mark in Ohio Valley Conference games. In the season immediately prior to his arrival, the Eagles finished with an RPI rating of 321. Five years later, his efforts yielded a year-end RPI of 77.
In 2006, Tyndall took over a Morehead State program that finished 4-23 the previous year. He improved the Eagles’ record in each of his first five seasons and led the school to 20-win seasons from 2008-11. MSU had reached the 20-win mark just twice in its history before his arrival.
When Tyndall was named head coach at Southern Miss prior to the 2012-13 campaign, he assumed the reins of a team that was among the youngest in the country and led them to a 27-10 (12-4 C-USA) record and a trip to the NIT quarterfinals. The 12 C-USA victories were the most since USM joined the league, and he was honored by his peers as the NABC District 11 Coach of the Year.
Tyndall’s squad only continued to reach new heights in 2013-14, breaking the previous year’s C-USA wins record by going 13-3 in league play. Southern Miss reached the NIT Quarterfinals in his two seasons at Southern Miss, including wins over Toledo and Missouri in this year’s tournament.
His first Morehead State team tripled its win total from the previous year. And in year two, despite being picked to finish 10th in the OVC, MSU finished third in the conference, earning him OVC Coach of the Year acclaim.
The Eagles’ trajectory skyrocketed during the 2008-09 season, as Tyndall led his alma mater to a 20-16 finish, an OVC championship and the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 1984. Morehead State defeated Alabama State before falling to Louisville in the second round.
Tyndall followed that effort with a 24-win season in 2009-10 and then a 25-win campaign in 2010-11. The 2011 team, led by first-round NBA Draft pick and current Denver Nuggets star Kenneth Faried, captured the second OVC title of Tyndall’s tenure. Tyndall was once again tabbed as the NABC District Coach of the Year, and the 13th-seeded Eagles shocked Rick Pitino’s fourth-seeded Louisville Cardinals in the second round of NCAA Tournament.
Faried’s impressive development under Tyndall shined that year, as he won his second consecutive OVC Player of the Year award, earned consensus All-American status and broke Tim Duncan’s career NCAA rebounding record before being selected 22nd overall by Denver in the 2011 NBA Draft. In three NBA seasons, Faried has averaged 12.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
After honing his craft in the junior college ranks in the mid-1990s, Tyndall landed his first Division I assistant coaching position at LSU in 1997. He later served in the role of associate head coach at Idaho (2001-02) and Middle Tennessee (2002-06).
Tyndall’s tenure on John Brady’s staff at LSU included the assembly of three top-25 signing classes – including the No. 1-ranked class in 1998. He coached five LSU players who earned All-SEC honors and four players who went on to play in the NBA. In 2000, he helped guide the Tigers to the SEC Championship, the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament and a year-end ranking of No. 10 nationally.
At Middle Tennessee, Tyndall helped usher the Blue Raiders to four consecutive winning seasons. As recruiting coordinator, he built a pair of national top 25 signing classes in 2003 and 2004. His recruiting prowess had been previously put on display during his lone year on staff at Idaho, as the Vandals’ 2002 recruiting class was rated 15th in the country.
Tyndall’s first head coaching experience came at St. Catharine College near Springfield, Ky. He coached the team to a 30-5 record and the school’s first-ever appearance in the NJCAA national tournament. For his efforts, he was recognized as the 1997 Region 7 National Coach of the Year, the Kentucky Junior College Coach of the Year and the Kentucky-Tennessee Junior College Coach of the Year.
A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Tyndall earned his bachelor’s degree from Morehead State in 1993 and received his master’s degree from LSU in 2000.
He has two daughters: Taylor Elise and Grace Elizabeth, and he is engaged to Nikki Young.