After a historic 16 seasons at the helm of the Blue Raider men's basketball program, head coach Kermit Davis has accepted the same position at the University of Mississippi effective at the end of Middle Tennessee's appearance in the National Invitation Tournament.
Coach Davis spoke to the media Thursday afternoon and was full of emotion when talking about MTSU, Murfreesboro and his time here:
Chip Walters, the Voice of the Blue Raiders, was at the media briefing and shares some comments:
The Blue Raiders have made great strides towards building a national brand in men's basketball during Davis' tenure and is now widely regarded as one of the top mid-major programs in the country.
"We take great pride in the hard work and enormous contributions by Coach Davis toward the progress and success of our university," said President Sidney A. McPhee. "He has led student athletes to victory on the court and in the classroom. He has raised the national profile and brand of our university.
"Kermit is my friend and Liz and I treasure the relationship we have with his family and him. While I wish he was staying at MTSU, and we worked hard to keep him here, including putting forward a significant counter-offer. Nevertheless, we all wish him the best in his move to his native Mississippi and thank him for the tremendous impact he has had at our university and in our community."
Davis exits Murphy Center as the all-time wins leader at MT by a large margin, boasting a 332-187 (.640) record during his time in Murfreesboro. In addition to four league Coach of the Year honors (2003, 2012, 2013 and 2017), Davis has also coached 25 all-conference selections, four Player of the Year award winners (LaRon Dendy, 2012; Shawn Jones, 2014; JaCorey Williams, 2017; and Nick King, 2018) and the 2013 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year (Bruce Massey).
"It has been an incredible experience for me personally and professionally working with Kermit (Davis) the past 13 years," said Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. "There have been some watershed moments that will always be embedded in our school's history during his time as head coach of the Blue Raiders.
"Speaking on behalf of the entire Blue Raider family, we will all miss Kermit and his family immensely. Ole Miss has made a great hire, and I know they will do well."
Despite Middle Tennessee being five years removed from the Sun Belt Conference, Davis also remains the all-time wins leader in the league with 117 SBC victories in 11 seasons. His most successful seasons, however, have come since he ushered MT into Conference USA.
Now in their fifth season as a C-USA member, the Blue Raiders have won or shared three regular-season titles and claimed a pair of conference tournament titles in 2016 and 2017. That wasn't the only postseason damage Davis' teams would do either, logging a pair of NCAA Tournament wins over No. 2 seed Michigan State and No. 5 seed Minnesota in back-to-back seasons.
Since joining its new league, Middle Tennessee has claimed more total wins (124) and league wins (68) than any other Conference USA member.
As successful as Davis' players have been on the court, he's created just as much of an environment for academic success in the men's basketball program, as 56 consecutive Blue Raiders will have earned college degrees upon the exhaustion of their eligibility come May.
"I would like to thank Dr. McPhee for giving me this fantastic opportunity 16 years ago," Davis said. "I call Dr. McPhee my boss and also refer to him and Liz as great friends.
"Thank you also to my two Athletic Directors that I have had a pleasure to work with in Coach Donnelly and Chris Massaro for their support to help build our national Middle Tennessee Basketball brand.
"Betty and I were so lucky to raise our two wonderful daughters, Ally and Claire, in one of the most giving communities in America. The entire city of Murfreesboro helped raise our special daughter Ally to become the young lady she is today. For that, Betty and I will always be forever grateful."
Middle Tennessee's search for their 20th head men's basketball coach will begin immediately.
"As we turn the page, being the head basketball coach at Middle Tennessee is a very attractive job and will draw interest from top-notch candidates because of the work Kermit and his staff have done the past 16 years." Massaro stated. "We will name someone who will continue to build on the national brand that has been created for Blue Raider basketball."
A national search is underway and the University will retain a search firm to assist in the process.
Middle Tennessee's pursuit of a long stay in the NIT continues Sunday when the Blue Raiders take on the Louisville Cardinals at 5:30 p.m. CT at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
"Anyone around Kermit knows his drive to winning and none of that has changed the past couple of weeks," Massaro added. "His focus is on another championship, and I think that was evident Tuesday night against Vermont."