Garnett Steps Down at Wayland Baptist

Wayland Baptist men’s basketball head coach Matt Garnett has announced he will leave coaching, having accepted a position as an elementary school teacher in Fort Worth.

“Coaching at Wayland has been the greatest professional honor of my career. It’s been very special to be back here and lead this program,” said Garnett, a former Pioneer player who spent the last four years as Wayland’s head coach.

“However, the greatest honor of my life is to be the father of my three daughters,” he added. “I’m excited about this new chapter of life as a family and about the next chapter of my professional life as a fulltime teacher.

“The transition allows me to be the father I want to be on a day-to-day basis. That always has been and always will be my priority.”

Wayland Baptist Director of Athletics Rick Cooper said Garnett will be dearly missed for a variety of reasons.

“Matt has done a wonderful job for Wayland Baptist basketball the past four years,” Cooper said. “He is a tremendous coach, but more importantly he is an incredible influence in the lives of his players.”

Taking over a program that had nine victories the season prior to his arrival, Garnett’s teams improved their win-loss record every season. And, after not qualifying for the NAIA National Tournament for five years, the Pioneers have made it to Kansas City the last two.

This past season Garnett’s team produced Wayland’s first-ever Sooner Athletic Conference basketball title as the Pioneers ended with 27 wins, the most in a season for the Pioneers in 23 years.

“Wayland appreciates Matt’s hard work, dedication and sacrifices, and I completely understand his reasons for this career change,” Cooper said. “We wish him and his family the very best.”

Cooper said a search for Garnett’s replacement already has begun.

Garnett, whose resignation is effective June 30, will teach math and science at Cesar Chavez Primary School in Fort Worth. He and his family – wife Anna, a former WBU cheerleader, and their three daughters: Faith, Hope and Grace – will live near White Settlement, not far from Garnett’s parents.

“Plainview has been a wonderful community for my daughters and wife. We’re going to dearly miss the relationships we’ve made, not only at Wayland but in the community,” Garnett said. “The community has been so good to us these last four years.”

Garnett, 32, played basketball at Wayland for three seasons, helping the Pioneers to the national tournament each season and earning honorable mention all-American and NAIA Scholar Athlete honors in 2004. After playing his senior season at Biola University in California where his team again qualified for nationals, Garnett returned to Wayland and graduated magna cum laude in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He earned his master’s in Christian ministry one year later, and then spent two years in the high school ranks as a teacher and assistant coach at Midland High School and South Houston High School.

In January 2008, Garnett briefly found his way back to Wayland as an assistant coach, but he moved on to McMurry University that spring and worked two years as an assistant before taking over as head coach in 2010. After helping the War Hawks to a 21-7 record, he came back to Wayland as the 11th head coach in the history of the Pioneers.

“I want to thank Wayland and its administration for giving me the opportunity to coach at my alma mater,” Garnett said. “It truly has been a blessing.”
The Pioneers took tremendous strides the past two seasons.

In 2013, Wayland narrowly missed out on a SAC championship, finishing 23-11 and with a No. 22 NAIA ranking. Then this past season the Pioneers captured their first SAC Tournament title en route to going 27-6. They fell in the first round of the national tournament for the second straight year and finished with a No. 13 ranking, the program’s highest in almost a quarter-of-a-century.

“One of the most special moments for me was to get to win a conference tournament championship and return, twice, to Kansas City,” Garnett said. “Dr. Feris (former AD Dr. Greg Feris) and I got to start that journey, and the program was able to do it again with the support of Coach Cooper this year.

“The journey these last four years of trying to get to that point was filled with very special moments. It’s the relationships with all of those young men I’ve coached that I will cherish.”

Garnett said the bonds he formed as a student-athlete with his coaches are priceless, and just as priceless have been the relationships he made as a coach with his own players.

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