JMU unveiled Mark Byington as its next men’s basketball head coach Friday. Stadium’s Jeff Goodman said Byington signed a six-year deal. Byington replaces former head coach Louis Rowe, who mutually departed from JMU after the Dukes’ exit in the 2020 CAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Byington, a native of Salem, Virginia, has been the head coach at Georgia Southern since 2013. He’s led the Eagles to a 131-97 record over seven seasons, boasting four seasons of 20 or more wins along the way.
“I am extremely excited to be the next basketball coach at James Madison University," Byington said. "I want to thank President Alger, Charlie King and Jeff Bourne for trusting me to lead an exciting time for James Madison basketball. I feel it's one of the best jobs in the [mid-Atlantic,] and I'm looking forward to winning immediately."
As a college player, Byington competed at UNCW from 1994-98, where he amassed over 1,000 points and earned Second Team All-CAA and All-CAA Defensive Team in his final season.
After his time as a Seahawk, he served as an assistant at the College of Charleston from 2002-04. He returned to Virginia as an assistant for U. Va before going back to Charleston in 2005. He remained as an assistant until 2012 when he was named interim head coach for the Cougars after former head coach Bobby Cremins took a medical leave of absence.
As interim head coach, Byington led Charleston to a 7-4 (6-3 Southern) record. Following the season, he took a job as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech. He spent one season with the Hokies before accepting the head coaching vacancy at Georgia Southern.
Following a 15-19 (6-10 Southern) showing in his debut season, he led the Eagles to a 22-9 (14-6 Sun Belt) record in his second campaign. The team went 14-17 (10-10 Sun Belt) in 2015-16, but that was the last season he finished with a losing record. Georgia Southern went 18-15 (11-7 Sun Belt) the next year and made an appearance in the College Basketball Insider Tournament.
The 2017-18 season was the beginning of three consecutive 20-win seasons, going 21-12 (11-7 Sun Belt), 21-12 (12-6 Sun Belt) and 20-13 (12-8 Sun Belt). JMU’s last 20-win season came in 2015-16, and the last time the Dukes did it three straight seasons was from 1991-94.
“Mark Byington made an immediate, positive impression and quickly stood out as the best fit to lead James Madison men's basketball," Bourne said to JMU Athletics. “He demonstrated a deep knowledge of our program and our current student-athletes, and he has a plan to lead JMU to the top of our conference, to win [championships] and to lead us back to postseason play.”
Byington accepts the job with the opening of the Atlantic Union Bank Center coming this fall and a program that hasn’t seen a winning season in four years. His coaching staff will be determined in the coming weeks.
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