Lennie Acuff
Lennie Acuff
Title: Lipscomb Head Coach
Organization: Lipscomb
Phone: 615-966-6479
Email: lennie.acuff@lipscomb.edu

NASHVILLE – Former University of Alabama in Huntsville head coach Lennie Acuff has been named the 19th head men’s basketball coach at Lipscomb University, Director of Athletics Philip Hutcheson announced on Tuesday. Acuff comes to town with more than 550 wins in his 29-year coaching career.

“Anyone who knows basketball at all knows that Lennie Acuff is recognized as one of the top basketball coaches at any level and over four hours of conversation I had with a number of coaches on the high school, travel-ball and college level proved that,” Hutcheson said. “One DI coach told me he was glad he wasn't getting hired into his conference because he didn't want to have to play him twice a year and another told me that he imagined the coaches in his current conference were likely happier than anyone that he was moving somewhere else.” 

“I am thrilled, very humbled and thankful for the opportunity,” Acuff said. “I understand the tradition that exists with Lipscomb basketball and I will do everything I can to continue to build upon that tradition.

“I have a tremendous amount of appreciation and respect for what has been here in the past. It is a job I take very seriously and I look forward to having the chance to meet everyone involved in Lipscomb basketball. My family and I want to be a part of the community and we want to be a team player by supporting everything Lipscomb stands for. We are very excited to be a part of the Lipscomb family.”

For the past 22 years, Acuff has been at the helm of the Chargers program where he built them into a national power with a 437-214 overall record.

Under Acuff, UAH won eight regular season and three Gulf South Conference tournament championships and earned 11 trips to the NCAA-DII tournament, including two trips to the Elite Eight after winning the NCAA-DII South Regional in 2011 and 2012.

During that time UAH was ranked in the national polls for 44 consecutive weeks including a No. 2 ranking to end the 2011-12 season. The team’s achievements were also recognized on a national level as Acuff’s team was the first Division II program invited to play in the NIT Season Tip-Off in 2012, and the Chargers defeated North Texas in the opening round of the prestigious event.  

“What was even more impressive than his on-the-court resume - which is quite lengthy and impressive - is how, to a person, every one of those I talked to spoke to the character and quality of person that Lennie is,” Hutcheson said. “Whether it was current and former players, faculty, fans, media or simply people in the community, the message we got over and over was that Lennie Acuff would be an outstanding fit at Lipscomb University and I believe they are right.

“I think it says something when people from all different parts of the country and a variety of backgrounds all recognize and respect someone for how they live out their faith and how they treat others and as happy as I am that he will be on the sidelines for us, I am even more pleased that he will be able to contribute to the fabric and culture of our Lipscomb community.”  

Acuff has been named the NABC District Coach of the Year four times (2000, 2011, 2012, and 2013) and has been honored as the GSC Coach of the Year a conference-record eight times (1999, 2003, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2016). Highly respected by his peers in the collegiate coaching ranks, Acuff is one of just two NCAA-DII coaches to serve on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors. And among all of the accolades and achievements, perhaps most impressively, Acuff has done that by recruiting student athletes to an academic institution with high expectations of all its students and an average incoming freshman ACT of 28.

“I have always wanted an opportunity to coach at the Division I level,” Acuff said. “I felt like if I were going to do it, it would need to be an institution I felt I was in alignment with from a faith-based and values situation, and Lipscomb had that.

“The type of players at Lipscomb are the same type I recruit in Huntsville, high-character kids that they’ve developed. Coach (Casey) Alexander built a great culture and they have had an amazing couple of seasons. The put Lipscomb basketball on the mid-major map.”

Prior to his tenure at UAH, Acuff was head coach at Berry College in Rome, Georgia for four seasons, where he established it as one of the premier NAIA programs. At the age of 25, Acuff began his coaching career at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, and was the youngest head coach at a four-year college in the United States at the time.

A graduate of Shorter College in 1988, Acuff had an outstanding basketball playing career, setting a number of school records, and is a member of the Shorter Athletic Hall of Fame (2011).

He was a member of an Athletes in Action college all-star team which toured Asia and he represented the United States in the Pre-Olympic Tournament in Seoul, South Korea. Following his playing career, Acuff earned his master’s degree from the University of North Alabama. Acuff and his wife, Kelly, have two children, Will and Molly.

“I am thrilled, very humbled and thankful for the opportunity,” Acuff said. “I understand the tradition that exists with Lipscomb basketball and I will do everything I can to continue to build upon that tradition.

“I have a tremendous amount of appreciation and respect for what has been here in the past. It is a job I take very seriously and I look forward to having the chance to meet everyone involved in Lipscomb basketball. My family and I want to be a part of the community and we want to be a team player by supporting everything Lipscomb stands for. We are very excited to be a part of the Lipscomb family.” 

WHAT THE BASKETBALL COMMUNITY IS SAYING ABOUT LENNIE ACUFF:

Rick Barnes – University of Tennessee head coach, 2019 Naismith Coach of the Year and USBWA National Coach of the Year

“This is a home-run hire for Lipscomb. Lennie Acuff is truly a terrific coach with a long history of winning. He’s going to be a fantastic fit—you couldn’t have asked for a more complete package.

“Lennie knows how to create a winning atmosphere, develop young people and help them succeed on and off the court.”

John Beilein – University of Michigan head coach, 2018 CBS Sports National Coach of the Year and 2-time National Runner-Up

“Lennie Acuff is a tremendous basketball coach. He can coach with the best at any level of college basketball.

“Lennie knows basketball, has a thirst for learning more about basketball, and is a great innovator of the game. His teams are elite at execution and decision making.  Great coaches are great teachers.  That’s what Lennie does, teaches the game. 

“When Lennie Acuff calls I pick up my phone. I know at the end of that conversation I’m going to be a better basketball coach myself because of our exchange of ideas. 

“This is a great hire for the Lipscomb athletic department and the University. Go Bisons!” 

Kermit Davis – University of Mississippi head coach and 2019 AP and SEC conference Coach of the Year

“What an absolute perfect fit for both Lipscomb University and Lennie Acuff! Lennie is one of the very best college coaches in America at any level!

“He’s a relentless recruiter and excellent evaluator that will transfer very well to the ASUN Conference! An Innovative offensive mind that will continue the up-tempo and motion offensive concepts the Lipscomb fan base is accustomed to watching!

“This is a slam dunk hire among all of Lennie’s coaching peers in our profession!” 

Bob Richey – Furman University head coach and 2019 finalist for the Hugh Durham Award, presented annually to the nation’s top mid-major coach.

“I could go on and on about Lennie. He impacted my transition from an assistant to a NCAA head coach as much as anyone in the country. His understanding of the game is as good as anyone I’ve ever been around with his ability to innovate and coach. What really separates him is understanding how to have a sustainable winner.

“If you look at his programs every year they just win and it doesn’t matter who they graduated, who they lost or who they have, they just keep winning. That comes through his ability to build a program with the right type of people in the right way.

“Lennie is going to start with character first and he isn’t going to compromise. He’s going to make sure that the type of student-athlete he brings to Lipscomb will represent the university with their character and faith on the forefront. He obviously wants to get good basketball players, but he is never going to compromise that.

“What Casey Alexander has done at Lipscomb the last few seasons has been phenomenal, but I don’t think you could have done any better in my opinion than putting Lennie Acuff in charge.”

Tommy Kyle – Executive Director at Nations of Coaches

“I’ve known Lennie since he was at Berry College and I have always said he is one of the best teachers of the X’s and O’s in our game. When people ask ‘where do I send my son to learn the game’, I tell them Lennie Acuff. He is an amazing teacher of the game.

“The other part of all of this is his character and his integrity. Lennie serves on the NABC National Board because he is a great leader. I’ve been in environments with him where not only is he working with young men, but he is also helping shape and form a university. What he has done at UAH, not just with basketball, is unbelievable.

“From the Nations of Coaches standpoint, he has been involved with our events over the years and has done a tremendous job of helping us reach other coaches. We are about to put a coach as a character coach from Colorado State because Lennie told his best friend that this is something that’s helping our profession and changing our game. Not only is he changing a culture of where he is at, but he’s looking to improve the culture of others and give back. I don’t think there is anything better you can say about a leader or a coach that not only are they impacting those they’re serving, but they are looking to impact others outside of their circle.”

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