Simmons hired as next men’s basketball coach

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern Athletic Director Tom Michael announced the hiring of Marty Simmons Wednesday as the next head coach of the Eastern men’s basketball program.

Simmons will be the 15th head coach in program history and the fourth since the Panthers became a Division I program.

On March 4, former Eastern head coach Jay Spoonhour was let go by the Panthers after nine seasons.

A press conference will be held Thursday at 1 p.m. to formally introduce Simmons.

A native of Lawrenceville, Illinois, Simmons comes to Eastern with a college coaching resume spanning 30 seasons, 17 of which were as a head coach.

He began his college coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater Evansville from 1990-1996 before getting his first head coaching job at Division III Wartburg College in Iowa, where he coached for one season and went 10-14.

He then returned to Evansville in an assistant position from 1997-2002 before he became the head coach at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville when they were still a Division II program.

In five seasons with the Cougars, Simmons posted a record of 88-59. His two best seasons with the Cougars were in 2004-05 and 2005-06, reaching the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament in both seasons.

The team advanced to the Elite Eight in 2005-06, where they lost to eventual runners up Virginia Union.

He left Edwardsville after the 2006-07 season to return to Evansville once again, this time as head coach.

He remained at Evansville for 11 seasons, compiling a record of 184-175.

With the Purple Aces, Simmons reached the CIT three times and the CBI twice, winning the CIT in the 2014-15 season.

He was fired after the 2017-18 season and took an assistant job at Clemson under head coach Brad Brownell, who he coached with at Evansville from 1991-92.

In his three seasons as an assistant with Clemson, the Tigers went 52-37 and was a seven seed in the 2021 tournament, losing to Rutgers in the first round.

Simmons also boasts an impressive playing career dating back to his time in Lawrenceville.

He scored 2,986 points in high school, the third-most in Illinois high school basketball history at the time.

He was named Illinois Mr. Basketball as a senior in 1983, an award that has also been won by players like Kevin Garnett and Derrick Rose.

He began his college career playing under the legendary Bob Knight at Indiana, reaching the Elite Eight as a freshman in 1984.

After his sophomore season, Simmons transferred to Evansville. He averaged 22.4 in his first season with Evansville in 1986-87. In his final season, he finished sixth in the nation in scoring averaging 25.9 points per game and finished ninth in the voting for AP College Basketball Player of the Year in 1988.

He was inducted into the University Evansville Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.

Simmons is taking over a program at Eastern that finished at 9-18 overall last season and 6-14 in conference play, missing out on a spot in the OVC Tournament.


Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]