By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
Northwestern State has hired its first African-American head coach in a major sport, naming 41-year-old Corey Gipson to take over the Demons’ basketball program Monday, a week after the departure of iconic 23-year head coach Mike McConathy.
Gipson comes to Northwestern after spending seven years on the Missouri State staff. He was named associate head coach 11 months after joining the Bears’ staff and during those six years, the tradition-rich program averaged 18 wins a season, including a 23-11 mark in 2021-22 that landed a National Invitation Tournament berth out of the Missouri Valley Conference.
He was a point guard for two seasons at Austin Peay in the Ohio Valley Conference, helping the Governors reach the 2003 NCAA Tournament as a junior. A native of Sikeston, Missouri, Gipson played junior college ball at Three Rivers Community College in his home state.
His coaching career began at Division II Virginia State, recruiting players who won a 2007 conference championship. He worked at UNC Greensboro, in the hometown of new NSU athletics director Kevin Bostian, from 2009-12, the last two years as associate head coach. Gipson then moved to Austin Peay as an assistant before taking the Missouri State post.
Bostian outlined his plan for a speedy search and targeted today as the date to make a hire. He cited the urgency of possible departures from NSU’s roster, filled with underclassmen led by first-team All-Southland Conference center Kendal Coleman, the Captain Shreve product who entered the portal last Monday and reportedly has about three dozen offers including from Oklahoma and Marquette.
Dealing with potential attrition, and also adding players through the portal, were primary factors in Bostian’s timetable.
Gipson will be introduced to the media and NSU supporters at 10 a.m. Wednesday at a news conference in the Lucille Mertz Hendrick Room (Room 121) inside the Friedman Student Union on the Northwestern State campus.
In the NSU athletic department’s announcement Monday, Gipson was appreciative.
“This is very humbling, first and foremost, to be able to take the helm of a program with so much history and tradition,” said Gipson. “My family and I are elated to be going to a historic community and a program where coach McConathy has built such a great legacy. He paved the way for me and my family to come in and have a chance to push that legacy forward. It is an opportunity we do not take lightly. We see it as a privilege.
“I want to thank the administration – Dr. Jones, (Director of Athletics) Kevin (Bostian), (Executive Vice President for External Affairs) Jerry (Pierce) – for trusting me to take the helm of the program.”
“As we went through the search process, it was clear Corey possessed all the qualities we desired in a coach,” Bostian said. “We look forward to him building upon the great legacy coach McConathy built here at Northwestern State. Corey has been successful at every stop in his career. He is a strong coach and recruiter, but more importantly, he has a track record of developing student-athletes into better young men on and away from the game of basketball.”
NSU president Dr. Marcus Jones said, “Corey Gipson has the professional experience and the family-oriented personal image and reputation to make him an excellent fit for the head men’s basketball coach position at Northwestern.”
He added, “I am confident that Corey will maintain the rich history and traditions of the program as coach Mike McConathy did for 23 years before his retirement and will work to guide NSU basketball to even greater success on the court and increased support from students, alumni and other fans.”
There was no immediate indication of the status of other members of the outgoing NSU basketball staff, including longtime assistants Jeff Moore and Dave Simmons. Moore, associate head coach, did interview for the vacant position last Wednesday morning.