OFFICIAL: Southern Illinois parts ways with alum Mullins

Following-up on the reports from yesterday. Here’s the official statement from SIU on their dumping of alum and Saluki Hall of Famer Bryan Mullins:

Southern Illinois University announced today that it has parted ways with fifth-year head coach Bryan Mullins. In five seasons at his alma mater, Mullins recorded an 86-68 record, including a 19-13 mark this season. 

After losing its top-two scorers in the transfer portal to Illinois (Marcus Domask) and Purdue (Lance Jones), Southern was picked to finish ninth this year. Instead, the Salukis were in the hunt for a top seed at the MVC Tournament until the final game of the regular season, when they lost at home to Northern Iowa. Mullins finished third in the voting for the league’s Coach of the Year award.

The season came to an end last night with a double-overtime loss to UIC in the opening round of the tournament.

Mullins achieved legendary status at SIU, leading the program to two NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT berth as the team’s starting point guard from 2006-09. The program reached its zenith in 2007 with a Sweet 16 appearance and No. 11 ranking in the national polls.

Known for his gritty defense and relentless effort, the Downers Grove, Illinois native set school records for assists, was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, a two-time Academic All-American, and carried a perfect 4.0 GPA. Mullins was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2018.

“I have tremendous respect for everything Bryan has accomplished throughout his career as a Saluki,” said SIU Director of Athletics Tim Leonard. “He guided our program with class and integrity, was an outstanding role model for our student-athletes, and handled himself as a true professional.”

Mullins was hired to replace Barry Hinson in 2019 and led Southern to a 16-16 mark in his first season (2019-20). SIU was picked 10th in the pre-season poll, but placed fifth, and Mullins finished runner-up for MVC Coach of the Year honors by a handful of votes. The campaign included a dramatic, last-second win over Missouri State, in which Domask hit a buzzer beater and fans rushed the court. 

The Salukis were 12-14 during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, but the campaign included a Power 6 road win at Butler, snapping the Bulldogs’ 59-game non-conference home court streak.

In 2021-22, SIU finished 16-15 and beat Power 5 Colorado. The high point of Mullins’ tenure was the 2022-23 season, in which the Salukis were 23-10, 14-6 in the MVC, and beat Oklahoma State for the program’s first road win over a Power 5 since 2000.

The 2023-24 season had its own special moments. The Salukis beat Oklahoma State again, beat regional rival Saint Louis, and recorded the program’s first top-25 win in 11 years by beating Indiana State. After playing a supporting role to Domask and Jones, Xavier Johnson emerged as one of the nation’s top players by leading the league in scoring and assists.

Academically, the program has consistently ranked among the best in the Valley in team GPA, and Domask earned Academic All-American status.

A national search will begin immediately for Mullins’ successor, according to Leonard.

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