Virginia Tech has found its new men’s basketball coach by way of Radford. Wofford’s Mike Young is coming home, taking over the program he watched growing up just across the river. His local roots run deep with a stint as an assistant coach at Radford University.
“It’s great to be home,” he told onlookers and reporters Monday morning in Cassell Coliseum. Young grew up attending Hokie basketball games with his dad. He called the new job “a dream come true.”
Virginia Tech President Dr. Tim Sands said the school was fortunate to have been able to recruit Mike Young to Virginia Tech, not only because of his proven leadership and coaching ability, but because Coach Young is home in Southwest Virginia and that he leads his life in the true Hokie tradition of integrity and commitment to service.
““I look forward to the excitement and success we will enjoy as Coach Young and his student-athletes hit the court and compete to win. Laura and I are excited to welcome Coach Young and his family to Virginia Tech and Blacksburg. We look forward to sharing our campus and the many Hokie traditions that make this place home for all of us,” he said.
Young was named the Sporting News Coach of the Year and finished third in this season’s AP Coach of the Year voting behind Texas Tech’s Chris Beard and Houston’s Kelvin Sampson; In addition to the on-court success of his teams, 100 percent of Young’s student-athletes at Wofford who completed their eligibility graduated.
Tech Athletic Director Whit Babcock said Coach Young has earned tremendous respect and admiration across the nation for the integrity and winning tradition that were trademarks of his program at Wofford.
His track record of winning consistently on the basketball court combined with his ability to develop young men into leaders and help them fulfill their potential academically and athletically appealed to us at Virginia Tech. His propensity as a recruiter, a teacher and an innovative coach are all attributes that will serve him well at Tech,” Babcock said.
Born Michael Kent Young, he is 55 years old. He played collegiately at Emory and Henry College and after graduation, he served as assistant coach at his alma mater. In 1988, he joined Oliver Purnell’s staff at Radford University. The following year, he joined the Wofford staff as an assistant.
In addition to a host of coaching accolades, Young currently serves as a member of the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Ethics Committee.
“On behalf of my entire family, we are humbled and honored to serve as the stewards of the men’s basketball program at Virginia Tech,“ Young said. “We are extremely grateful to President Sands and Whit for extending this opportunity to us that we will embrace with great fervor and enthusiasm. I’ve long admired Virginia Tech from afar for its principles, as well as for the ability of its athletic programs to consistently win with integrity. I can’t wait to meet our student-athletes, support staff and fans as we prepare to get to work in Blacksburg.”
In 2015, Young was named to the Radford High School Sports Hall of Fame. The same year, he was enshrined in the Emory and Henry College HOF.
This past month, the 55-year-old was named the Southern Conference’s men’s basketball coach of the year after leading the Terriers to a 30-win season. This is the fifth time he has received the honor.
He came to the school in 1989 as an assistant coach and was named head coach in 2002. Young also has assistant stints at Emory and Henry, and Radford University.
Young help transition Wofford from the Division-II to I ranks and included five early years of being barely over the .500 mark.
Things changed quickly after that. The 2008-2009 season ushered in a new beginning as Wofford recorded its first winning season as a D-I school and the first winning Scoop record in school history.
As a head coach, Young has compiled a 299-244 overall mark including four SoCo tournament and two regular season championships. Since 2009, he’s guided Wofford to five NCAA Tournament appearances and 62.2% winning percentage
According to figures compiled by USA TODAY Sports, Young earned a salary of $161,043 in 2015, the lowest total among the 64 NCAA Tournament coaches in that year. At Tech, he signs a 5-year deal worth $!2 million. The first will state at $2 million, but there are plenty of incentives built into the contract including NCAA appearances, high grade point averages and coach of the year honors that could net an addition $500,000.
This past season was one for the record books, as Wofford was 30-5 overall. After running the table for the Southern Conference regular season title (18-0), the team won the SoCon Tournament for the fifth time in the last ten years. In the NCAA Tournament, the Terriers were a seventh-seed – the highest by a team from the Southern Conference since the field expanded to 64 teams. A win over Seton Hall sent Wofford to the second round, the league’s first NCAA Tournament victory in 11 years. They were defeated by second-seeded Kentucky 62-56 to end the season.
Along the way in 2018-19, the team reached unprecedented heights. The team was ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time ever and was ranked #19 heading into the NCAA Tournament. The 30 wins were the most in school history and included a 21-game win streak. Young was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year for the fourth time, earned Sporting News National Coach of the Year honors, and finished third in the voting for AP Coach of the Year.
“Mike Young has been an exceptional member of the Wofford community and a transformational coach for our student athletes over the past 30 years,” said Wofford College President Dr. Nayef Samhat. “While we will miss him, we wish Mike and his family the very best, and we look forward to continuing his legacy of success on and off the court.”
Under Young’s leadership, the Terriers’ resume included impressive non-conference wins over the likes of Auburn, Cincinnati, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Purdue, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Wake Forest.
The success Young achieved on the court has complemented his emphasis on academics. All players who completed their eligibility at Wofford graduated.
“After 30 years of working with Mike, it is hard to imagine him being gone,” said Wofford College Director of Athletics Richard Johnson. “However, we knew that this was the one job that could possibly lure him away. Mike grew up within 30 miles of Blacksburg, so this is returning home for him. To have the opportunity to coach at the highest level, in the best basketball conference in the country was simply too good to pass up.
“Mike has witnessed it all at Wofford,” continued Johnson. “When I hired him as my assistant coach in 1989, he was a graduate assistant at Radford University. He was an integral part of our move to NCCA Division I and eventually the Southern Conference. His accomplishments here are too numerous to mention, but suffice to say, the Wofford basketball program is light years away from when Mike first set foot on campus. Please join me in congratulating him as we celebrate his dedication to his craft, to Wofford and the realization of a lifetime dream.”
Young ends his career at Wofford with a record of 175-124 (.581) in Southern Conference play. Young’s 299 wins rank second in Southern Conference history and first in school history.
During his distinguished tenure, he has seen many players go on to play professionally. He has coached Olympian Mike Lenzly, All-Americans Noah Dahlman, Brad Loesing and Fletcher Magee, four Southern Conference Players of the Year, and 22 All-Southern Conference selections.
The Wofford men’s basketball team announced two signees for its 2019 class this month, as Hunter Cattoor and Zac Ervin of Gate City announced their commitments to Wofford College by signing their respective National Letters of Intent.
It is not known if they will de-commit to follow Young to Blacksburg.