Vanderbilt hires Mark Byington away from James Madison

Vanderbilt hires Mark Byington away from James Madison

According to multiple reports early Monday afternoon, Vanderbilt has hired James Madison’s Mark Byington to replace Jerry Stackhouse as its next men’s head basketball coach.

The 47-year-old Byington led the Dukes to an incredible 32-4 record and an appearance in the Round of 32 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. They were eliminated yesterday in a 93-55 loss to Duke as six-point underdogs.

JMU (32-4 straight up, 20-15 against the spread) won the Sun Belt Tournament to earn its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2013. Then the Dukes led from start to finish in Friday’s 72-61 win over fifth-seeded Wisconsin as five-point underdogs, advancing to the second round for the first time since 1983.

Byington spent four seasons at James Madison, compiling an 82-36 (69.5%) overall record and a 27-9 mark in two seasons in the Sun Belt. He was the HC at Georgia Southern for seven years from 2013-20 before taking the JMU gig.

Byington won 20 games or more four times at Ga. Southern, going 131-97 (57.5%) overall and 78-54 (59.1%) in Sun Belt play. He took the Eagles to the CBI in 2016-17.

Byington grew up in Salem, VA., and played college basketball at UNC-Wilmington. He was a three-year starter for the Seahawks and a second-team All-Colonial selection as a senior.

His coaching career started as an assistant at the College of Charleston in 2002. After two seasons, he left for an assistant position at Virginia for one year before returning to Charleston, where he was on Bobby Cremins’ staff from 2005-12.

When Cremins stepped down during the 2011-12 campaign, Byington took over as interim head coach and went 7-4 in 11 games. He wasn’t retained by the new staff and was an assistant at Va. Tech for one year before being hired by Ga. Southern.

In 11 seasons (and 11 games as an interim) as a head coach, Byington owns a 220-137 record (61.6%).

Vanderbilt hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2017. Stackhouse led the Commodores to back-to-back appearances in the NIT quarterfinals in 2022 and 2023.

However, after an impressive late-season surge in ’23, Vandy wasn’t able to retain much of its talent due to better NIL opportunities elsewhere.

Jordan Wright and Myles Stute transferred to LSU and South Carolina, respectively. Those were critical losses, but the defections of role players like Quentin Millora-Brown, Trey Thomas, Malik Dia and Noah Shelby were also costly.

The result was a nightmare 9-23 record that led to Stackhouse’s pink slip.

The first order of business for Byington will be retaining his best returning talent in power forward Ven-Allen Lubin, who averaged 12.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shots per game.

Vandy’s two other best players – Ezra Manjon and Tyrin Lawrence – are already gone. Manjon is off to the NBA Draft, while Lawrence entered the transfer portal last week.

Lawrence entered the portal last year, too, before opting to return. That could potentially happen again, but it seems unlikely.