Troy head coach no stranger to winning

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Troy University’s new headcoach for men’s basketball, Phil Cunningham, speaks to media during a news conference Tuesday morning.

Troy University’s new headcoach for men’s basketball, Phil Cunningham, speaks to media during a news conference Tuesday morning.

The man who on Tuesday was announced Troy University’s sixth head coach in the school’s history is no stranger to university athletics.

Phil Cunningham is a 23-year coaching veteran and is a nationally-recognized assistant coach from Campbellsville, Ky.

Troy’s new coach began his coaching career as an assistant coach on his father’s staff at Cambellsville University after graduating with a degree in business administration. He then went to Mississippi State as a graduate assistant for the 1991-92 season, where he earned a master’s degree in physical education with an emphasis in sports administration.

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Cunningham spent 12 seasons as Mississippi State’s assistant coach before moving to Western Kentucky University. Cunningham’s time at both schools yielded 11 postseason appearances in 13 years, including seven at NCAA Tournaments.

At Mississippi State, Cunningham worked primarily with the Bulldog guards and with recruiting efforts. All of the 12 recruiting classes he worked with at Mississippi State were nationally recognized. Troy’s new coach helped land Jarvis Varnado, Jamont Gordon, Arnett Moultrie and Monta Ellis.

Cunningham was part of five Southeaster Conference Western Division crowns, one overall conference championship and two conference tournament titles in his last nine seasons at Mississippi State.

Before his time there, Cunningham spent five seasons as an assistant coach under head coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell at James Madison and Georgia State. Cunningham was promoted to the associate head coach during his final two seasons at GSU and is credited with helping transform the Panthers into one of the winningest basketball programs in the Atlantic Sun Conference. His recruiting efforts at that school helped land conference player of the year recipients Thomas Terrell and Shernard Long.

Before Cunningham’s 18-year stint as an NCAA Division 1 assistant coach, he was the head basketball coach at Sue Bennett College in London, Ky. where he led the team to 48 victories during his time with the Dragons.

Prior to his already-successful coaching career, Cunningham was an all-state honorable mention backcourt performer and a shortstop on the baseball team at Taylor County High School in Campbellsville. He later played at Kentucky Wesleyan where the team won a NCAA Division II National Championship in 1987.

Cunningham was recently named one of the top 25 assistant coaches in the NCAA by and has been recognized by The Hoop Scoop recruiting publication as one of the top NCAA Division I men’s basketball assistant coaches.