Spring Hill College announced on Tuesday that Craig Kennedy has been named head men’s basketball coach. Kennedy is a 38-year coaching and teaching veteran who has coached at Troy University, Georgia Southern University, Auburn University and the University of Winnipeg. Most recently, Kennedy has served as an Assistant Athletic Director for the Badgers since 2015.
“I am pleased that Craig has accepted the opportunity to step in and take over our men’s basketball program,” said SHC Director of Athletics Jim Hall. “Our men’s basketball team is a program that is poised to take significant steps forward in the coming years. Craig brings a tremendous amount of high-level coaching combined with regional and national recruiting experience to the position that I am confident will enable the continued growth of the program.”
“Craig is first and foremost an educator and our players can look forward to benefiting from Craig’s passion, coaching and mentoring both on and off the court,” Hall added. “His understanding of our campus and athletic department culture combined with his knowledge of our current players will allow him to hit the ground running during summer recruiting and fall workouts.”
Kennedy got his coaching start in his native Canada as an assistant women’s basketball coach with the University of Winnipeg where the program won three Canadian University National Championships and compiling a 101-2 record. Those teams also tied the UCLA men’s basketball record of 88 consecutive wins during that span. Kennedy concluded his time at the University of Winnipeg by serving as the interim head coach and leading the team to a Top Ten finish after the team graduated 97% of its offense from the previous season. Four players from that team went on to play professionally overseas prior to the founding of the WNBA.
Kennedy was also the interim head coach at Trinity Western University (TWU) guiding the Spartans to a third place conference finish and a No. 13 national ranking. Both accolades marked the best finishes for the women’s basketball team in TWU history. The team set six new school records, and Kennedy was rewarded for his hard work as the runner-up for the 1993 BCCAA Coach of the Year award.
Following a successful coaching career in Canada, Kennedy moved to Auburn, Ala., in 1996 where he coached at Lee-Scott Academy taking the boys team to consecutive AISA Final Fours. Kennedy also coached for two years at the world renowned Five Star Basketball Camp as well as Don Meyer’s Lipscomb Basketball Camp.
In 2000, Kennedy was hired as the Director of Basketball Operations at Auburn University before becoming the assistant coach for the Lady Tigers under Coach Joe Ciampi. Auburn won the 2003 WNIT championship defeating Baylor in Waco, Texas. In 2004, the Lady Tigers earned a bid to the NCAA tournament where they defeated North Carolina State by 25 before falling to Connecticut who went on to win the National Championship. Five players from that team went on to play professionally. Nicole Louden and Natasha Brackett pursued careers overseas while three post players with whom he directly worked in Marita Payne, Mandisa Stevenson and LeCoe Willingham went on to the WNBA.
“God has blessed me with the opportunity to coach here at Spring Hill College as the next men’s basketball coach,” said Kennedy. “I want to thank Jim Hall for this tremendous opportunity. I would not be here without Gord Mushey and Wayne Williams who gave me my start in coaching many years ago. I have been fortunate to have had some great mentors and friends in coaching such as Tom Kendall at Winnipeg, Joe Ciampi at Auburn and Michael Murphy at Troy, all of whom set a high standard for a head coach.”
“[Former SHC head and assistant men’s basketball coaches] Aaron Niven and Brian Murphy did a great job in recruiting fine student-athletes to SHC and I intend to continue bringing in good people who are serious student-athletes,” Kennedy said. “As a team, we are excited to be members of the first full-fledged NCAA Division II men’s basketball team here at Spring Hill and we look forward to this upcoming season.”
Upon the retirement of Auburn head coach Joe Ciampi in 2004, Kennedy moved from Auburn to Georgia Southern University (GSU) where, as associate head coach, he recruited Ashley Melson GSU’s first ever member of the SoCon All-Rookie Team and then recruited Carolyn Whitney who was named the school’s first-ever conference Rookie of the Year. Kennedy also coached shooting guard Tiffany Brown who played professionally overseas.
Following his time at GSU, he spent the next six years (2006-12) at Troy University where he worked with Australian Amy Lewis who went on to play in the WNBA. Kennedy recruited Ashley Beverly Kelley for the Trojans who would became Troy’s all-time leading scorer, and worked with Sarah McAppion who won the 3-on-3 Asia Cup Championship in 2017 for her native Australia.
Kennedy was active off the court while at Troy, teaching in the Institute of Leadership Development, the Sports Management program, as well as online classes, working with the school’s first-year reading initiative, regularly guest speaking at the HOBY Leadership conference. He was also responsible for managing the Track & Field venue for the Special Olympics.
Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Education in American History from the University of Winnipeg and a Master of Science in Sports Management from Troy. He is the father of two children who both received full academic scholarships to college. Melissa graduated from Auburn where she majored in Fashion Merchandising and Hunter played football at Troy and is majoring in Sports Management.
“Craig is an outstanding person and tireless worker who I know will care about our players and strive to develop them in the Jesuit tradition as men in service to others,” Hall said. “I am convinced he is the right person to continue our emphasis on academic and personal achievement while striving to win Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) championships.”