By Tim Gardner
Appalachian State University has hired Dustin Kerns as its next men’s basketball coach.
The school announced the decision Thursday afternoon pending approvals by the University Board of Trustees and the North Carolina Board of Governors. Both are considered only formalities. The school’s Board of Trustees met in Boone today (Thursday) and will be doing so again on Friday (tomorrow). Kerns will have an introductory press conference at 1:00 p.m. Friday on the fifth floor of the Ricks Athletics Complex on campus. The event is open to the public and will be streamed live on Facebook (AppStateSports).
Kerns replaces Jim Fox, who was fired March 15 after five seasons. Kerns is the 22nd head coach in Appalachian State Men’s Basketball history.
“Our family is honored and humbled to be joining the Appalachian State University family,” Kerns said through a school-issued press release. “We are so excited to raise our family in Boone and be a part of the community. There is truly something special in these mountains that brings people together with immense pride and touches people’s lives.”
Kerns spent the last two seasons as the head men’s basketball coach at Presbyterian College, where he compiled a 31-37 record. But his tenure there includes a quick turnaround for a program that joined the Division-I ranks in 2007. Presbyterian’s 20 victories in 2018-19 represent the best Division-I win total in the school’s history. The Blue Hose lost Tuesday to Marshall in the quarterfinals of the College Invitational Tournament.
“This is a great day for the Appalachian Family and our basketball program,” Appalachian State Athletics Director Doug Gillin said in the school’s release. “Dustin is a highly regarded young coach who has worked with strong basketball programs and has done an impressive job as the head coach at Presbyterian. He has a clear vision for success at App State and is committed to excellence academically, competitively, socially and for the well-being of our student-athletes. I’m excited about the future of Mountaineer basketball.”
Before his first head coaching job, Kerns spent the bulk of his career as an assistant at Wofford College under Coach Mike Young. Kerns worked with the Terriers twice — first as an assistant from 2004-2005 through the 2007-2008 seasons, then as associate head coach from the 2013-14 through the 2016-2017 seasons. Wofford earned two NCAA Tournament appearances (2014 and 2015) during Kerns’ second stint with the program.
Kerns graduated from Clemson University in 2002 with a degree in secondary education. As an undergraduate, he worked as a student assistant for the men’s basketball program and was selected to coach at the prestigious Michael Jordan Flight School for three summers from 2001-03.
Kerns was the director of basketball operations at Tennessee Tech for one season (2002-2003), then joined Buzz Peterson’s staff at the University of Tennessee as a graduate assistant for the 2003-2004 season.
Peterson coached at Appalachian from 1996 to 2000, and again for the 2009-10 season.
From the 2007-2008 through the 2012-13 seasons, Kerns worked at Santa Clara University—one season as Director of Basketball Operations and then the last five as an assistant coach with former Broncos head coach Kerry Keating, a former Appalachian assistant under Peterson. Santa Clara won at least 24 games in two of Kerns’ final three seasons on its staff.
Kerns received national recognition as one of college basketball’s top assistant coaches and recruiters, earning the No. 4 Low-Major Recruiter ranking from CoachStat.net and the No. 20 Mid-Major Assistant Coach ranking.
A Kingsport, TN native, Kerns played at Dobyns-Bennett High School, a national powerhouse at the prep level.
He is married to the former Brittany Wright, and the couple has a daughter, Emory, and a son, Riggs.