Special to the Register
Eastern Kentucky University head men’s basketball coach Jeff Neubauer is one of 15 finalists for the 2014 Hugh Durham Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top mid-major coach.
The winner will be announced at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet on April 4 in Dallas, site of the 2014 Final Four.
Neubauer concluded his ninth season as the Colonels’ head coach by directing the team to the Ohio Valley Conference Tourn-ament championship and a spot in the NCAA Tourna-ment. Neubauer’s gameplan against No. 2 seed Kansas allowed EKU to nearly upset the Jayhawks.
EKU led for more than half the game, was in front by one with 8:55 left to play, and was down only three with less than four minutes remaining.
The Colonels finished the 2013-14 season with a 24-10 record, the second most victories ever for an Eastern team. EKU captured its sixth OVC Tournament title and made its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance.
The 2013-14 season wasn’t an aberration, it was the by-product of building the program into not only one of the most consistent in the Ohio Valley Conference, but one of the most consistent in the mid-major ranks. The Colonels are one of only two teams to qualify for each of the last 12 OVC Tournaments.
Under Neubauer’s guidance, EKU is the second-winningest program in the OVC over the last nine seasons with 167 victories. EKU’s 80 wins over the last four years qualifies as the winningest four-year stretch in program history. That includes a school-record 25 victories last season.
Neubauer is the only men’s basketball coach in EKU’s history to post four 20-win seasons. His 167 victories rank second to only Paul S. McBrayer’s 214 wins on the EKU bench.
The award is named in honor of Hugh Durham, who had retired at the end of the 2004-05 season. Durham is one of just 12 coaches to have led two different programs to the NCAA Final Four (Florida State in 1972 and Georgia in 1983). He is the only coach among that group to have led both schools to their lone Final Four appearance.
The other finalists include Mike Brennan (American), Rick Byrd (Belmont), Tim Clues (Iona), Steve Hawkins (Western Michigan), Bob Hoffman (Mercer), Ron Hunter (Georgia State), Tony Jasick (IPFW), Tod Kowalczyk (Toledo), Gregg Marshall (Wichita State), LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central), Saul Phillips (North Dakota State), Monte Ross (Delaware), Brad Underwood (Stephen F. Austin), Will Wade (Chattanooga).