Lander athletics director Brian Reese has announced that Steve Roberts has resigned as the head men’s basketball coach and that assistant coach Ryan Hilburn will take over the program as the interim head coach effective immediately.
Roberts, who played in 125 games for Lander from 1980-84 and worked for all four previous head coaches at Lander before taking over the program in April of 2015, guided the Bearcats to a Peach Belt Conference Tournament title in 2015-16 and the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years.
“Coach Roberts has represented Lander University with class and professionalism during his tenure as head basketball coach,” said Reese . “All of us here at Lander wish Steve and his family well in their future endeavors and thank him for his many dedicated years of service to the Lander men’s basketball program and Lander University.”
“I appreciate the opportunity to have led the Lander University men’s basketball program,” said Roberts. “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished in my time as head coach of my alma mater. Although today’s events have been difficult, it has been a great honor to be associated with Lander University as a student, player, assistant coach and head coach. I have treasured my time at Lander. I want to thank the students, fans, alumni as well as the faculty and staff for their support over the years. I especially want to thank all of my coaches and players, past and present, for their dedication, loyalty and friendship. I will certainly miss our current players and wish them every success in basketball, in the classroom and in life.”
Hilburn joined the program as an assistant coach prior to the 2015-16 season. During his time on the sidelines with the Bearcats, he has helped lead Lander to a PBC Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament appearance, while coaching three all-conference players.
Before joining Roberts’ staff, Hilburn spent five seasons at Anderson. During his stint with the Trojans, he was part of an Elite Eight run and Anderson’s 2011-12 South Atlantic Conference Regular Season Championship, which also saw the team reach the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Anderson reached the NCAA Tournament four times in Hilburn’s five seasons on staff and compiled an 88-37 record.
The native of Charleston, S.C., served as an assistant coach at Lander for one season (2009-10) under head coach Jeff Burkhamer before arriving in Anderson. In 2008-09, Hilburn served as a graduate assistant at Armstrong Atlantic State University under Burkhamer, when the team posted a 23-7 record and finished the season ranked in the NABC’s Top-25. Hilburn also served on the staff of Barclay Radebaugh at Charleston Southern and for Hall of Fame basketball coach Dave Odom as an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina. During his tenure at USC, the Gamecocks made appearances in the SEC Championship game, the NCAA Tournament, and won back-to-back NIT Tournament Championships.
Hilburn earned his bachelor’s degree in Sport Management from the University of South Carolina in 2006 and graduated from Northwood Academy in 2000. While at Northwood Academy, he helped lead the Chargers to the SCISA AA State Basketball Championship in 2000.
Lander will begin a national search for the program’s seventh head men’s basketball coach immediately.
The Bearcats travel to USC Aiken on Saturday afternoon for a 3:30 p.m tipoff.