Jay Spoonhour is no longer the head coach of the Eastern men’s basketball team after his contract was not renewed by the athletic department Thursday.
Spoonhour spent the last nine seasons with the program, leading the Panthers to 119 wins and seven appearances in the OVC Tournament.
He was the 14th head coach in program history and ranks sixth among those coaches in wins.
He was also the longest-tenured coach in the OVC.
In a statement released by the athletic department Thursday, Eastern athletic director Tom Michael said that it was not an easy decision to move on from Spoonhour.
“These decisions are never easy to make, especially with a person like Coach Spoonhour,” Michael said. “We felt that it was time to take the program in a new direction under different leadership. We wish Jay and his family nothing but the best.”
Spoonhour declined to comment on his departure.
The Panthers struggled in Spoonhour’s final season, going 9-18 overall and 6-10 in the OVC, finishing in 10th place in the conference and missing the conference tournament.
The team dealt with injuries throughout the season and was often shorthanded due to players missing time because of COVID-19 protocols.
The Panthers were still in position to make the tournament if they had won their final two games of the regular season, but a loss to Southeast Missouri on Feb. 25 dashed their postseason hopes.
Spoonhour’s best season as head coach of the Panthers came in 2014-15.
Eastern went 18-15 overall and 9-7 in conference. After losing in the second round of the OVC Tournament, the Panthers were invited to the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament, also known as the CIT.
The Panthers fell in the second round of the CIT, but their win against Oakland in the opening round remains the only postseason win for the program as a Division I team.
Spoonhour’s departure from Eastern creates even more change for a program that will be graduating eight players this spring, which was more than half of their roster this past season.
A nationwide search is now underway for Spoonhour’s replacement.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]