USC Upstate's Payne Nominated for Coach of the Year Honors

March 23, 2012 at 11:51 am


After guiding the USC Upstate men’s basketball team to a 21-13 campaign and an appearance in the Second Round of the College Insider Tournament, Spartan head coach Eddie Payne has been nominated for two National Coach of the Year Honors.

Payne, in his 10th season at the helm of the Spartan program, is in the running for the Jim Phelan Award and the Hugh Durham Award.

Upstate’s 21 wins are the most for the Spartans in the D-I era and are more than the club posted the three previous seasons. Coach Payne and the Spartans currently own the best turnaround in all of Division I with a 16-win improvement compared to the 2010-11 season. The Spartans are just the second team to post 20 or more wins in their first season of full NCAA D-I eligibility after completing the five-year transition from to D-I. North Dakota State posted 26 wins in their first season of full eligibility (2008-09).

“It’s an outstanding group of finalists,” said longtime Mount St. Mary’s coach Jim Phelan. “The voters have a real challenge to select one coach from that list.”

The award is named after Jim Phelan who coached his entire career at Mount Saint Mary’s University. He led the Mountaineers to the 1962 NCAA Men’s Division II Basketball Championship. When he retired in 2003, after coaching for 49 years, he amassed 830 wins (overall record of 830-524) in over 1,300 games in all divisions. In those 49 years, 19 of his teams amassed 20 or more wins in a season.

The Hugh Durham Award is given annually to the nation’s top mid-major coach. In 2005 the Mid-Major Coach of the Year award was renamed in honor of Hugh Durham, the coaching legend who had retired at the end of the 2004-05 season. Durham is one of just twelve 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 winner for both awards will be announced at the awards banquet on March 30 in New Orleans, site of the men’s NCAA Basketball Championship.