OFFICIAL: Mercer names Ridder as new Head Basketball Coach

Athletics department officials at Mercer University announced Friday evening that 15-year collegiate coaching veteran Ryan Ridder has been named as the men’s basketball program’s 30th head coach.
Ridder treks to Middle Georgia after leading UT Martin to 48 victories over the last three seasons, including a 21-11 mark in 2023-24. He has amassed a 191-120 (.614) record in nine seasons as a head coach – a career that includes previous head-coaching stops at both Daytona State and Bethune-Cookman.
“I could not be more excited to welcome Ryan, his wife Jen, and their children to the Mercer family,” said Mercer Athletics Director Jim Cole. “Coach Ridder has shown throughout his career that he excels in skill development, which will help bring out the best in our returning student-athletes. I’m also confident that our fans will be energized by the brand of basketball that he will bring to Hawkins Arena as well.”
Ridder bridged his first and second seasons in northwest Tennessee by leading the Skyhawks on a 9-1/2 game turnaround as UT Martin posted 19 victories during the 2022-23 campaign, a third-place finish in the final Ohio Valley Conference regular season standings and the program’s fifth appearance all-time in the OVC Tournament semifinals. The 19 wins marked the fifth-most victories for the program in its more than three decades on the NCAA Division I level.
UT Martin boasted NCAA Division I’s 23rd-ranked scoring offense (81.5 points/game) this past season, while also showcasing one of the nation’s top rebounding teams as well. The Skyhawks captured 12 of their final 14 regular season contests to claim a share of the OVC regular season crown and the No. 2 seed in the OVC Tournament. It was just the ninth time in the 73-year history of the program that the Skyhawks had rattled off 20 or more victories, and the first time it had accomplished that feat since the 2016-17 campaign.
“I want to express my gratitude to President Bill Underwood and Director of Athletics Jim Cole for their faith in me to lead the men’s basketball program at Mercer University,” Ridder said. “My family and I are extremely excited for this opportunity to build new relationships, as well as to build on the tradition of success that this program has already experienced. There is an immense amount of support and pride in the Mercer family, and I can’t wait to meet our phenomenal young men and get to work. Go Bears!”
Prior to taking the reins at UT Martin, Ridder compiled 48 wins across three seasons as the head coach at Bethune-Cookman, including a pair of winning campaigns as the skipper of the Wildcats. In just his first season as an NCAA Division I head coach, Ridder steered the Wildcats to 18 wins and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference crown. Following that magical season, he was selected as the recipient of the Joe B. Hall Award which is presented annually to the top first-year head coach in the NCAA Division I ranks. He was also named to ESPN’s “40 Under 40” list of the nation’s top assistant and head coaches in May 2020. 
Ridder jump-started his head coaching career at Daytona State (Fla.) College where he amassed a 95-28 (.772) record and four conference championships from 2013-17, including back-to-back 25-win seasons in his final two years at the junior college powerhouse. The Falcons were consistently ranked on both the regional and national levels under Ridder who claimed four consecutive conference coach of the year laurels as well.
Ridder made the leap into the coaching world as a volunteer assistant coach for his father, Steve Ridder, at Embry-Riddle (Fla.) in 2009-10. He also served as an assistant coach at Campbell for three seasons (2010-13).
A native of Lexington, Ky., Ridder starred as a player at the College of Wooster from 2003-05 before closing out his collegiate playing career for his father at Embry-Riddle in 2005-06. He earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace studies from ERAU in 2008, and accepted a role as an assistant at North Raleigh Christian High School in North Carolina for the 2008-09 campaign. He earned his master’s degree in sport management with a concentration in intercollegiate athletic administration from California (Pa.) in 2009.
Ridder and his wife, the former Jen Calnan of Daytona Beach, Fla., have three daughters – Brixton, Remi and Marlee.

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