Robert Morris Illinois Head Coach Al Bruehl to Retire Following 2016-17 Season; Othyus Jeffers Named Successor

Robert Morris Illinois Head Men’s Basketball Coach Al Bruehl has announced that the 2016-2017 season will be his last on the Eagles’ bench, as he is retiring from collegiate coaching at the end of the year.  The legendary coach will remain active with RMU Athletics as Director of Basketball Operations, overseeing both the RMU Men’s and Women’s Basketball programs, along with the downstate basketball teams.  RMU alumnus and former NBA player Othyus Jeffers has been named as Coach Bruehl’s successor and has joined the staff this season as Associate Head Coach.

“Many of us have never known anyone other than Al Bruehl at the helm of RMU Men’s Basketball, and he has certainly established a nationally recognized and respected program here at Robert Morris University,” said RMU Director of Athletics Megan Smith Eggert.  “Through his dedication and passion for the game, Al has been able to field competitive and championship level teams year in and year out.  His success on the court has also deemed him worthy of plenty coach of the year awards and hall of fame inductions, however, in the end, Al always has the experience and success of his student-athletes at the forefront, and will continue to be a valuable asset to RMU Athletics in his new role.”

Coach Bruehl, who has been the Eagles’ head coach for 20 seasons, is the eighth winningest active coach in NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball with an overall record of 591-199 in 25 seasons coached.  He has led his RMU teams to 13 NAIA National Tournaments, including six semi-final appearances and a national runner-up finish in 2002, along with 13 CCAC Conference regular season championships and 11 CCAC Tournament titles.

Individually, Coach Bruehl has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career.  He was selected the NAIA National Coach of the Year twice and has been named the CCAC Conference Coach of the Year 11 times.  In addition, the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association has awarded him IBCA NAIA Coach of the Year honors 19 times.  Coach Bruehl was also inducted into the CCAC Conference Hall of Fame in 2005 and the RMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.

“It’s been an honor to coach at RMU for the past 20 years and I want to thank Chancellor Viollt, President Krueger, Director of Athletics Megan Smith Eggert, and all of the faculty and staff for their support throughout the years,” said Bruehl.  “I would also like to express my humble gratitude to all of my former players and coaches, who paved the way to all of those final fours, national tournaments, and conference championships over the past 20 years.  I say thank you to each and every one of you.”

The RMU Men’s Basketball team will be in good hands after Coach Bruehl’s retirement with the appointment of former Eagle Othyus Jeffers as head coach beginning with the 2017-2018 season.

“It’s still shocking to see Coach Bruehl retiring, but at the same time it’s a blessing that RMU has given me this outstanding opportunity to continue on what coach has built,” said Jeffers.  “I want to thank everyone at RMU for having me in their thoughts and allowing me to take on such a wonderful coaching job.  I have big shoes to fill, but I’m up for the task.”

Jeffers brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and professional playing experience to the program, including stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, and Washington Wizards of the NBA.  Jeffers had the opportunity to play for and learn from legendary coaches Greg Popovich and Bob Sloan during that time.  He was also an All-Star and Rookie of the Year in the NBA Developmental League, and has played professionally in Italy and the Philippines.

During his collegiate playing career at RMU, Jeffers was selected NAIA National Player of the Year and Basketball Times NAIA National Co-Player of the Year for the 2007-2008 season after leading the Eagles to the NAIA National Tournament Quarter-Finals.  In addition, he earned NAIA All-American First Team and CCAC All-Conference First Team selections that year.  Prior to RMU, Jeffers played collegiately at the University of Illinois at Chicago, earning Horizon League Newcomer of the Year honors during the 2005-2006 season.

“I’m excited on the hiring of former all-time great Othyus Jeffers as new RMU head coach next season,” said Bruehl.  “He brings experience of basketball at the highest level, having played for Jerry Sloan with the Utah Jazz and Greg Popvich at the San Antonio Spurs.  To meet “O” is to love him.  I think he brings an energy and dynamic that can be special for RMU.”

Jeffers will work with Coach Bruehl this season, serving on the RMU staff as Associate Head Coach.

“As we welcome Othyus Jeffers back to RMU in his role as Associate Head Coach, we know that he certainly has the basketball knowledge, professional experience, and talent to make an immediate impact with the program,” said Smith Eggert.  “However, it is Othyus’ natural leadership ability, infectious work ethic, genuine passion for the game, and his understanding of the opportunity that it affords to student-athletes that truly makes us proud to announce his appointment to Head Coach for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.  We look forward to Othyus continuing the tradition and success that Coach Bruehl has built, all while making the RMU program his own in the years to come.”

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