Fennell named Head Basketball Coach at UTRGV

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque announced on Friday the hiring of Kahil Fennell (pronounced kuh-HILL fuh-NELL), who spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at BYU, as the new head men’s basketball coach.

Fennell will be formally introduced to the public and the media at a press conference on Wednesday, April 10 at 3 p.m. at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.

Fennell helped lead BYU to 23 wins this past season, their first in the Big 12, including four wins over ranked teams. BYU made the NCAA Tournament this season after being ranked in 14 of 15 AP polls, which is the most for the Cougars since 2010-11, and the program ranked No. 16 in the KenPom rankings with the No. 9 ranked offense.

In his first season with BYU, Fennell helped lead the program to 19 wins and a spot in the West Coast Conference Tournament Championship Game. Throughout his tenure, Fennell was the player development and defensive coordinators while working with the wing position group.

“Kahil is one of the most innovative and creative coaches I have ever interviewed, and I believe his unique approach will lead to tremendous success for our basketball program,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey said. “Additionally, Kahil possesses an exceptional ability to communicate, a skill crucial not only for his coaching duties but also in engaging with our community and rallying the Valley behind our athletics program. With Kahil’s leadership, I have no doubt that we will see success both on and off the basketball court.”

“Today is a great day for UTRGV Athletics and we are thrilled to welcome Coach Fennell as the next next leader of our men’s basketball program,” Conque said. “Coach Fennell quickly emerged as someone who has an unmatched passion for the game, young people, and community. In a landscape that is ever changing, Coach Fennell has demonstrated his ability to attract top talent and effectively teach while being a part of successful programs at multiple levels. His story is unique, but one that demonstrates his love for student-athletes and the passion he has to make an impact on their lives on and off the court. Coach Fennell and I share a vision for our program and we understand the importance of building a basketball program that will excite our region, compete for Southland Conference championships, and continue to help UTRGV #RallyTheValley. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Kahil, Sarah, Ezra, and Koa to the Vaqueros Family!”

Prior to his tenure at BYU, Fennell spent four seasons at Louisville (2018-22), where he started as the Cardinals’ Director of Basketball Operations before being promoted to assistant coach in 2021-22. 

Fennell was part of a staff that went 70-47, including a 24-7 record to finish second in the ACC in 2019-20, and a 20-14 season that was capped by an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018-19. 

“I am honored to be the next head coach of the UTRGV men’s basketball program,” Fennell said. “I’d like to thank President Bailey, Chasse Conque, and [Deputy Director of Athletics] Molly Castner for their collective faith in me and our shared vision for the future of Vaqueros basketball. I am thrilled to be joining a university and athletic department the caliber of UTRGV’s and I am grateful for the opportunity. Further, my family and I feel extremely fortunate to become part of the Rio Grande Valley community. It’s a region that reflects our family’s values and we’re excited to represent our neighbors there. This is a basketball program that is capable of great things with a desire to excel at the highest level. My staff and I will work tirelessly to make this community and university proud as we strive toward bringing a championship to the Valley. V’s Up!”

Prior to joining the staff at Louisville, Fennell spent one season (2017-18) as an assistant coach at Portland State, where he helped the Vikings to a 20-14 record, their most in 10 years and third most in 22 years in the Big Sky Conference. Fennell helped guide the Vikings to a program record 10 road wins en route to a CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament berth. 

Fennell started his collegiate coaching career at UT Permian Basin (UTPB) serving as an assistant coach in 2015-16 before being promoted to associate head coach in 2016-17. 

Fennell helped guide the Falcons to conference regular season and tournament championships in 2016-17, setting a program record with 26 wins. Fennell also helped UTPB lead the nation in rebounding while ranking 12th in scoring. 

Fennell started his coaching career as a junior varsity coach and an assistant varsity coach at Alameda (Ca.) High School in 2014-15. 

Fennell’s playing career started at Thousand Oaks (Ca.) High School, where he earned all-league honors and served as team captain. Fennell played one season at Penn State New Kensington, where he earned Academic All-State honors. He then transferred to the University of the Redlands for his final three seasons, serving as team captain as a senior.

Fennell earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Redlands in 2004. 

Fennell and his wife, Sarah, who played basketball at Dayton, have two sons, Ezra (10) and Koa (9).


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