STATESBORO — Georgia Southern men’s basketball head coach Mark Byington has announced the hiring of Ben Betts and Rob Burke to his staff for the 2015-16 season.
Betts joins the Eagles as an assistant coach with more than two decades of experience. Burke, the new director of basketball operations, joins the Eagles after five years as an assistant coach at The Citadel.
Betts’ coaching history includes three seasons as the head coach at South Carolina State and assistant-coaching stints at Oklahoma, Virginia
Commonwealth, Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, Tennessee State, the College of Charleston and South Carolina State.
“I have known Ben for many years, and I have always had great respect for his work ethic, his professionalism and his knowledge for the game of basketball,” Byington said. “We are lucky to have a coach who has his experience at every level of basketball, including a successful stint at
South Carolina State as a head coach, as well as coaching the first pick in the NBA draft at Oklahoma (Blake Griffin). He is not only a great recruiter, but a great teacher of the game, and that is a quality I always look for in assistant coaches. I feel coach Betts will be a head coach again at some point, and I hope I can help him achieve this goal.”
Betts’ most-recent stop, a one-year stint at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, came after three years at Tennessee State, where he helped guide the team to the 2013 CIT Postseason Tournament. From 2006-11, he was an assistant coach at Oklahoma, where he worked under Jeff Capel. The Sooners qualified for the 2008 and 2009 NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2009, and Betts helped to recruit and coach current NBA All-Star forward Blake Griffin.
From 2003-06, he was the head coach at South Carolina State, where he led the team to a 51-39 record and one Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season title. He also had a 1-2 record as interim head coach at the end of the 1994-95 season.
Prior to leading the program at South Carolina State, he spent a season as an assistant coach at VCU under Capel in 2002-03. From 1997 to 2002, he was an assistant coach at the College of Charleston. Among the highlights in Charleston are qualifying for the
1999 NCAA Tournament after sweeping through the Southern Conference with a
16-0 record and a victory over No. 3 North Carolina. The Cougars ended the season ranked 16th nationally in each of the two primary NCAA Division I polls.
Rob Burke spent the last five seasons working under Chuck Drisell at The Citadel.
“I have also known Rob for many years going back to his time as head coach at Spartanburg Methodist (College),” Byington said. “Recently, coach Burke has continued to do well at The Citadel as an assistant coach and has accomplished some great achievements during this time. I love the fact that Rob has worked at every level of basketball and has great connections and experience. I know Rob is over-qualified, but I am grateful he wants to be a part of our basketball program. He brings tremendous energy, work ethic and loyalty to our program. Our team and community will really enjoy Rob and his family.”
Burke served as head coach at SMC before moving to The Citadel. His teams finished with a record of 112-67 for a .625 winning percentage and averaged 19 wins per season during his six-year run (2004-10). With a winning record in every season as head coach, Burke’s team reached the 20-win plateau in 2005-06 (22-11) and 2007-08 (24-8). He was named Region 10 Coach of the Year in 2008-09.
Burke graduated 94 percent of his players from SMC. His work with the Pioneers resulted in four first-team All-Region and eight second-team performers.
Burke also served as an assistant coach at Campbell from 2002-04 and Limestone, including a stint as the junior-varsity head coach, from 2001-02. Through his affiliation with Ganon Baker Basketball as a pro staff skill-development trainer, Burke spent the summer of 2008 at the Nike National Skills Academy.
Betts replaces former assistant coach Tim Kaine, who recently took an assistant-coach position at Murray State under longtime friend Matt McMahon. Burke fills the vacancy left by Cabral Huff, who left Georgia Southern for an assistant-coach position at Alcorn State.