Saint Francis head men’s basketball coach Rob Krimmel announced Thursday the hiring of Andrew Helton as the team’s new associate head coach. Helton begins his second stint with the Red Flash.
“I am extremely excited to welcome coach Helton back to Loretto,” Krimmel said. “I have known coach Helton for almost 20 years and have great respect for him not only as a coach but as a person as well. Andy has a great passion and understanding for the game.”
Helton served as an assistant coach with Saint Francis under Tom McConnell from 1994-99, during most of Krimmel’s time as a player for the Red Flash. SFU reached the NEC Tournament in four of Helton’s five years on the bench and won tournament games in two of those years. The Flash has resurrected that postseason success with trips to the NEC Tournament semifinals in each of the past two years.
“I am looking forward to being a part of a program that is working hard to build on last year’s big wins and postseason appearance,” Helton said. “Saint Francis and west-central Pennsylvania are filled with great people. My family and I are really anxious to become members of these communities.”
His second stint with Saint Francis begins after a five-year run as the head coach at Eastern New Mexico University.
Helton won 62 games at ENMU, ranking sixth in career victories in program history. He joined the staff for the 2009-10 season and guided the team to a six-game improvement in its record as the team contended for a berth in the Lone Star Conference tournament. The following season saw ENMU post a winning conference record and finish with 13 total wins. The resurgence under Helton culminated with the program’s first winning season in a decade in 2013-14.
Prior to Eastern New Mexico, Helton reached the NCAA Tournament as an assistant coach at both Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and University of South Alabama.
For two seasons, Helton served under University of South Alabama head coach Ronnie Arrow. In his first season with the Jaguars, the team posted a school record 26 victories and won the Sun Belt Conference Eastern Division title and a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to South Alabama, Helton helped the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men’s basketball team to the Southland Conference title in 2007 before nearly upsetting No. 2 seed Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament.
In returning to Loretto, Helton will look to help the Flash reach its first NCAA Tournament since 1991. Krimmel is very familiar with him, as he was a player for Saint Francis during Helton’s first run as an assistant coach.
“He had a tremendous impact on my development as a player and as a person during my playing days at Saint Francis and I know he will provide the same guidance to our current student-athletes,” Krimmel said. “He has been successful at every stop in his coaching career and will have an immediate impact on our program both on and off the court. I am anxious to welcome his wife Elly and his kids Will and Grace to our Saint Francis family later this summer.”
Helton has also served at the University of Miami and Pitt-Johnstown. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Miami University (Ohio) in 1992 before earning a master’s degree in sports administration from the University of Miami in 2001.
Photo Courtesy St. Francis Athletics