WALESKA, Ga. – After being at the helm of Reinhardt men’s basketball for seven seasons and 16 years overall as a college basketball head coach, lead Eagle Jason Gillespie has resigned from his post and stepped away from the game of basketball.
Gillespie, who totaled a 280-223 mark during his coaching career, made a lasting impression – not only on the student-athletes he coached – but also the faculty and staff that he worked with throughout the years.
In 2018-19, Reinhardt finished 14-14 and made an appearance in the Appalachian Athletic Conference Championship (AAC) in Kingsport, Tenn.
“I am so grateful to Reinhardt and for our experiences here,” Gillespie said. Reinhardt is a special place because of the people that work and study here. I cannot thank Coach Popp enough for hiring me and supporting me for seven seasons. He is a phenomenal athletic director, and an even better person; I couldn’t have asked for a better boss. What RU Athletics has accomplished is not typical of most NAIA schools and that is absolutely due to the man in charge of this athletic program. Whoever he hires to fill my shoes will be a high-quality person and coach.
I’m also excited for the direction Reinhardt is going under Dr. Mallard’s guidance. As an employee, you can sense her passion for guiding Reinhardt towards an even brighter future. It has truly been a blessing to have been here… Those positives did not make this an easy decision.”
Gillespie also uplifted and supported everyone around him, and his impact on Reinhardt men’s basketball has been felt in more ways than one.
“There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude towards Coach Gillespie,” Vice President of Athletics and Director of Athletics Bill Popp said. “He led our basketball program with grace; he was an advocate for his student-athletes and was a competitive force – not only in the AAC – but at a national level as well.
Coach Gillespie will be missed, but he leaves the program in good health and passes on a strong legacy to the next leader of our men’s basketball team.”
Gillespie said that being a head college basketball coach was all he wanted to do for a career, and it is a surreal feeling giving up coaching, but one he felt was necessary from a health and family standpoint.
Additionally, the coaches who helped guide and mentor him along the way as a younger coach are huge reasons that he was able to follow his dreams: Joe McPherson, Bob McEvoy, Scott Polsgrove, John Shulman and Tony Wallingford were the ones who had the biggest impact on Gillespie and helped him along the way the most.
His best season with Reinhardt came in 2016-17, where the Eagles went 22-10 en route to the AAC Championship final and a berth in the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship in Point Lookout, Mo.
Now, it’s on to the next chapter.
“The hardest part will be giving up the daily interactions with our student-athletes and my coaching staff,” Gillespie said. “Jay Smith and Tony Foster are the two assistants here that were with me the longest and I hope that they learned from me as much as I learned from them.
I believe a part of everyone’s goal in life should include making others’ lives better. I hope we’ve done that for our players, but I know for a fact that every one of those who chose to play for me had some sort of positive impact on my life. To all of my former student-athletes and fellow coaches, I just want to say thank you so much for letting me and my family be a part of your lives.”
A nationwide search for the next leader of Reinhardt on the hardwood will begin immediately until the position is filled.
By Mike DeVader, Reinhardt Director of Athletic Communications & Media