By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Steve Payne has resigned from his position as head men's basketball coach at Tennessee Tech University following 17 seasons with the program, including the last eight as head coach.
Director of Athletics Mark Wilson announced Payne's resignation Sunday. A national search will begin immediately to identify Tennessee Tech's 13th head coach in program history. Associate head coach Jason Taylor will stay on as acting head coach throughout the search.
"We want to extend our sincerest thank you to Steve Payne for his numerous years of dedication and service to Tennessee Tech men's basketball," Wilson said. "Steve has done a tremendous job of recruiting the right student-athletes that embody the culture that we wish to continue to build here at Tennessee Tech. We wish him the very best in his future pursuits and thank him again for his guidance of our men's basketball program and his representation of Tennessee Tech University and the Tennessee Tech Athletics Department."
In eight seasons as the Golden Eagle head man, Payne led the purple and gold to a 118-134 record, making the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament five times. His 118 career victories tie him for fourth in program history with John Oldham, who coached nine seasons from 1955-64. The 2018-19 Tech squad finished the season 8-23 with a league record of 4-14.
Tech twice won the OVC Team Academic Achievement award under his watch, presented to the league team with the greatest percentage of its eligible student-athletes who achieve a 3.25 grade point average or higher. He helped guide Tech players to earn a total of 24 All-OVC honors throughout his 17 years with the program, not including the 2018-19 campaign.
"There are a lot of things I can say," Payne expressed. "I've been here 17 years and I love the University and the entire town. My kids have grown up in the Cookeville community and I am very appreciative of my time at Tech.
"We had a rebuilding year this year after graduating five seniors last season and played most of the season with just seven healthy scholarship guys. It was a tough situation, but I thought the kids did a great job. The future is bright. I'm proud of many things. We won the academic award twice. We recruited the right kids. I'm very proud of our guys. The future is very bright for the program. I'm hopeful for them and the fans."
Photo by Tony Marable