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East Carolina hires Tennessee assistant as men's basketball coach

Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, N.C.
East Carolina Athletics
via Twitter
Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, N.C.

The East Carolina Pirates have a new leader of their men’s basketball program.

ECU announced the hiring of Michael Schwartz as its new head men's basketball coach Wednesday.

Schwartz, 45, is currently an assistant at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville -- which is a No. 3 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Schwartz has spent seven seasons with the Vols, four of them as associate head coach. And for five seasons, he’s been Tennessee’s defensive coordinator. During that span, the Vols are 118-45.

Tennessee has the third-best defense in the nation this season, according to’s defensive efficiency metrics.

Schwartz will stay with Tennessee through the NCAA Tournament. Last week, the Vols won the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time in 43 years.

Mike is the total package and one of the sharpest basketball minds I've known.
Rick Barnes, Tennessee head coach

“Mike is highly regarded in the basketball industry, and we are fortunate to have him on board to lead our program forward,” ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert said in a statement. “When we made the change in leadership, we wanted to move quickly but efficiently. The goal was to find the right fit and partnership, and Mike has all the intangibles we were looking for as a head coach and it became clear he was the right fit to lead our program.”

Schwartz replaces Joe Dooley, who was fired last week after posting a 44-67 record over four seasons. It was Dooley’s second stint in Greenville, as he was previously the coach of the Pirates from 1995 to 1999.

ECU hasn't had a winning season in men's basketball since 2013, and hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1993.

Schwartz got his start in coaching basketball in 1999 as a graduate assistant at Texas under then-head coach Rick Barnes. Schwartz then made stops at Long Beach State, UTSA, Miami, Fresno State and Tulsa before reuniting with Barnes at Tennessee in 2016.

During his time as an assistant coach, Schwartz has been on the staff of 10 teams to appear in the NCAA Tournament.

"Mike is the total package and one of the sharpest basketball minds I've known," Barnes said in a statement. "He's been prepared to lead his own program for several years now. He's had multiple opportunities, but he's been very deliberate in waiting for the 'right' opportunity. Jon Gilbert's vision and leadership align perfectly with Mike's, and I have no doubt that they will build a championship culture in short order at East Carolina. Mike is going to put together an incredible staff, and they'll be relentless in recruiting and developing outstanding players who are high-character young men."

Barnes is a native of Hickory, North Carolina, and is a graduate of Lenoir–Rhyne University.

Schwartz said Wednesday: “Coach Barnes – I owe him everything. He is a friend, a mentor, a leader and a father figure to me… Coach Barnes, you know, he’s a North Carolinian. He has often talked to me about the great history of East Carolina.”

The Pirates finished this season with a 15-15 record and a 6-11 mark in the American Athletic Conference.

Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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