Updated at 1:45 p.m.
JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State has hired Brittney Ezell as its new head women's basketball coach, pending approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents.
Ezell, who played softball and basketball at the University of Alabama, has spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Belmont University in Nashville.
“We were looking for someone who had played at the highest levels, understood what it takes to win championships, and had extensive collegiate coaching experience,” Dr. Richard Sander, ETSU's interim athletic director, said in a university release. “Brittney possesses all of these qualities. She has the dedication and passion to take our program to a championship level and back to the NCAA Tournament.”
In three years at Belmont, Ezell navigated the Bruins through their final two seasons as member of the Atlantic Sun Conference (2011-2012) and inaugural season in the Ohio Valley Conference (2013).
This past season, Ezell directed Belmont to an 18-14 campaign and the Bruins' first postseason appearance since 2007 — a berth in the Women's Basketball Invitational. Belmont took on a rigorous non-conference schedule and earned a victory at Big Ten fixture Indiana. Belmont went 11-5 in OVC play, tying for second place in the OVC East and earning the conference tournament's No. 3 seed.
The Bruins led the OVC in scoring defense (57.3) and ranked 19th nationally in field goal percentage defense (.347). They also ranked in the top 50 nationally in turnovers per game (13.8) and free throw percentage (.748).
Ezell took the helm of the Belmont program after spending the previous two seasons as head coach at the University of Montevallo. Prior to that, she spent three seasons as head coach at Okaloosa-Walton Junior College (now Northwest Florida State College) in Niceville, Fla.
Ezell's coaching career began at the University of Alabama, where she spent five years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. She was credited with delivering back-to-back top-15 recruiting classes for the Tide, with four guards developing into All-Southeastern Conference players.
Ezell was a four-year starting point guard for the Tide, helping lead the team to a 95-34 record and four consecutive NCAA Division I Sweet 16 appearances from 1995-98. She ranks in the top 20 in career scoring, with 1,022 points and is second all-time in career assists (620) and games started (114). She was a second-team All-SEC selection in 1998 and was named to the SEC all-tournament team in 1996.
In 1998, Ezell was a candidate for the Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award, given to the top point guard in the country and was named to the inaugural WBCA/Honda All-Star Game for the nation's top 20 players. She also was invited to the WNBA Rookie Combine in Chicago.
Ezell also became the first female two-sport athlete at Alabama in over a decade when she joined the Tide softball team. A two-time Golden Glove recipient and two-year starter at third base and shortstop, she started at third base for the Tide's first SEC tournament championship team in 1998.
Ezell earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Alabama in 1999 and a master's degree in education administration from the University of Nebraska in 2005. A native of Franklin, Tenn., Ezell was a standout at Franklin High School. She was a three-time district MVP, tallying over 2,000 points and 600 assists in her career.
Ezell replaces Karen Kemp, who retired after going 272-277 in 19 seasons.
Pending approval from the TBR, ETSU plans to formally introduce Ezell at a news conference Friday in the Ward Room of the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
From The Tennessean:
After three seasons as the Belmont women’s basketball coach, Brittney Ezell has accepted the head coaching position at East Tennessee State.
Ezell, a Franklin native, played at Alabama and was also a candidate for the Crimson Tide’s coaching job, which became vacant when Wendell Hudson was reassigned earlier this month.
Ezell, 37, who declined to comment, will replace Karen Kemp, who retired at the end of the season after 19 years at ETSU. The Lady Bucs will be Ezell's fourth head coaching job.
See The Tennessean for the complete story.