Men's Basketball: Wallace named new Panthers' head coach
Kendal Wallace was named today as LaGrange College's new head men's basketball coach. Currently assistant men's coach at Maryville (Tenn.) College, he was selected for the job from a field of 169 applicants.
"We had great interest in this position, and we believe that Kendal stands out from the crowd because of his instrumental role in an extremely successful program and his passion for Division III athletics," said LaGrange President Dan McAlexander. "We are pleased to have him join our team to continue the tradition of inspiring outstanding Panther student-athletes."
Wallace has served for five years as assistant coach at Maryville, and during that time the program has earned four invitations to the NCAA Division III national tournament. In addition to his coaching and recruiting responsibilities there, Wallace's roles included athletics work-study coordinator, athletics travel coordinator and game management assistant.
"This is one of the happiest days of my life," Wallace said. "I believe LaGrange College is one of the finest institutions in the South, and I look forward to being a part of its athletic department.
"My family and I are extremely pleased, and we hope to make an immediate impact on the college, the community and the future of many young people.
"My first priority will be the returning members of the basketball team. I want to ensure that they are provided an opportunity to compete at a high level while maintaining their commitment to their academics."
In arriving at their decision, the LaGrange search committee narrowed the field to nine candidates who were interviewed via conference calls. From that pool, five coaches were selected for on-campus interviews.
For retiring Athletic Director Phil Williamson, the announcement brings things full circle near the end of his 42-year career at the school. Williamson's original duties at the college included serving as men's basketball coach.
"It's exciting to see someone arrive with such great potential for success," he said. "I look forward to watching the team under Kendal's leadership."
The position became vacant with the March resignation announcement of former coach Warren Haynes. The school acted quickly to begin the search, which was led by Head Women's Basketball Coach Mark Isenhour, Head Football Coach Todd Mooney, Head Athletic Trainer Rob Dicks and new Athletic Director Jennifer Claybrook.
"We were instantly drawn to Kendal's impressive track record and his familiarity with Division III and our region," Claybrook said. "He's ready to hit the ground running and so eager to support current team members and to recruit new ones.
"It's a great day for Panther basketball."
Maryville, Wallace's alma mater, has won four Great South Athletic Conference championships while he served as assistant coach. The Scots also had four seasons of 20-plus wins during that time, and the 2009-10 team led NCAA Division III in assists per game. During his 31-year tenure, Maryville head coach Randy Lambert has coached four All-American selections, three of those with Wallace as his assistant.
In the past five seasons, the Scots have produced the three All-Americans, two GSAC Players of the Year and 15 GSAC all-conference selections. The program has also produced seven GSAC All-Academic selections and graduated 20 players in the past five years.
Wallace is a native of Nashville, Tenn. He attended Dickson County High School, where he was a two-year starter in basketball. He played two years at Martin Methodist (Tenn.) College, a junior college at the time, before transferring to Maryville.
As a player at Maryville, Wallace helped the Scots to records of 25-4 and 20-6, two NCAA Division III national tournaments – including an appearance in the Elite Eight – and national rankings both seasons. He worked for two years under Lambert as a student assistant, graduating with a degree in history and a minor in political science for teacher licensure.
Wallace received a master's degree in Health and Fitness Management from the University of North Alabama. He and his wife, Jennifer, have a son, Rex.