A coaching veteran with over two decades of experience, Bob Simmons has been named the head men’s basketball coach at Allegheny College.
Simmons replaces Jim Driggs, who resigned in June due to family obligations, and now becomes the 18th head coach in Allegheny men’s basketball program history.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Bob Simmons to the Gator family,” said Allegheny Director of Athletics Portia Hoeg. “Throughout his coaching career, his teams have enjoyed great success not only on the court, but also in the classroom. It is clear that he is committed to both the Allegheny College and NCAA Division III missions, and he is an ideal fit for our department.”
“When Portia called and offered me the position,” Simmons said, “I was honored, humbled, and speechless. I am very excited to get started and begin our journey at Allegheny College. My family and I are looking forward to becoming part of the community immediately.”
Simmons comes to Meadville after spending the past two seasons as the head men’s basketball coach at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In his first season of 2013-14, the Pacers set new program records in both field goal percentage (.443) and three-point field goal percentage (.374), while a pair of players earned honorable mention All-Colonial States Athletic Conference plaudits. In the classroom, the squad won the CSAC Team Academic Award for posting the highest team GPA of any men’s basketball team in the league at 3.06.
In 2014-15, Marywood finished 14-11, the second-best single-season mark in team history. The Pacers again established new team marks for field goal percentage (.445) and three-point percentage (.377), while they also led the CSAC in scoring defense, surrendering an average of just 67.6 points per game. The team again performed admirably in the classroom, posting a GPA of 3.33 to claim top honors in the CSAC for a second straight season.
Prior to his tenure at Marywood, Simmons worked on the staff at Division-I Ball State University for six seasons, starting in 2007 as an assistant coach, before being elevated to Associate Head Coach in September 2009. With Simmons on the bench, the Cardinals turned in five top-three finishes in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division, highlighted by the 2010-11 squad that finished 19-13. He was instrumental in the team’s recruiting efforts, and saw a total of five Cardinal players named to the MAC All-Freshman Team during his stint at Ball State.
Before his time at Ball State, Simmons worked as an assistant at Division-I Lehigh for five years (2002-07) under head coach Billy Taylor. He held a variety of roles at Lehigh, including coordinating recruiting efforts, devising strength and conditioning programs, overseeing scouting and scheduling, and presiding over the team’s annual summer camp program. Simmons’ tenure at Lehigh was highlighted by a 2003-04 season in which the Mountain Hawks finished 20-11, won the Patriot League championship, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Simmons began his college coaching career at the Division-III level, starting in 1996 when he was named assistant coach at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. Serving as coordinator of recruiting, academics, scouting, film exchange, and strength and conditioning during his four years with the Flying Dutchmen, the team went a combined 78-35, reaching the NCAA Division III Tournament in both 1997 and 1999, while winning the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South Region Tournament in both 1998 and 2000.
In 2000, he accepted the head coaching position at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, working for two seasons before moving on to Lehigh.
Simmons graduated from Wilkes University in 1993 with degrees in organizational communications and secondary education. While at Wilkes, he served as a men’s basketball student assistant coach as a senior, and after graduating, worked an assistant at Crestwood High School in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, and Bishop Hafey High School in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
Simmons, who played scholastically at Bishop Hafey, is a native of Hazleton, and he and wife Deb have two daughters, Hanah and Isabella.
“There were several things that drew me to Allegheny College,” Simmons said. “The academic reputation of the school was the first thing that grabbed my attention. Second was the chance to compete in the North Coast Athletic Conference, which is one of the top Division III conferences in the country. Third are the people I spoke with and then later met that make up Allegheny College. Finally, the Meadville community is a great place to live and raise a family.”
He takes over a Gator team that finished 11-15 a season ago, advancing to the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament for the first time in four seasons, where they were edged in the opening round by Wabash College.
“I expect Coach Simmons to build on the wonderful foundation Coach Driggs has established at Allegheny,” Hoeg said. “I am confident the men’s basketball program will reach a new level of success on and off the court under his leadership.”
The Gators are set to tip off the 2015-16 campaign on Nov. 15, when they welcome local rival Thiel College to the David V. Wise Center.
“My goals are very simple,” said Simmons. “First is to graduate all of our players. Second is to win in the classroom, on the court, and in the community. Third, when the game is over, I want people to say that our men competed, were well prepared, and represented the College and our alumni in a first class manner.”
An on campus meet-and-greet with Simmons is planned for Sept. 26 in conjunction with Allegheny’s Homecoming weekend. Additional details will be released when finalized.
Photo Courtesy Marywood Athletics