WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Louisville Associate Head Basketball Coach Kevin Keatts has agreed to a coaching deal with UNCW, according to university officials. He will be the 10th men's basketball coach in UNCW history.
"Kevin Keatts is one of the top young basketball coaches in the country and we welcome him to the Seahawk family," said Athletic Director Jimmy Bass. "We're very excited about what lies ahead for our program. Kevin is a bright star in the profession and he's had the opportunity to work with one of the most successful coaches ever in Rick Pitino. We're looking forward to having him on campus and working hard to bring our program back to the forefront of college basketball."
Keatts is in his third year at Louisville, and was promoted to Associate Head Coach in January.
Keatts has been instrumental in helping Louisville bring together two-straight top-ten recruiting classes reaching the Final Four twice and winning a national title in 2013.
The Cardinals are still alive in the NCAA Tournament and will face Kentucky Friday.
"Coach Keatts will be a dynamic addition to the Seahawk family," said UNCW Chancellor Gary L. Miller. "It's an honor to bring Coach Keatts aboard given his experience, reputation and approach. We are eager to introduce him to the Wilmington community and I'm confident that he will receive a warm welcome from fans and supporters of our program."
Keatts takes over after the termination of Buzz Peterson on March 11 and follows in the footsteps of Bill Brooks (1952-72), Mel Gibson (1973-86), Robert McPherson (1987-90), Kevin Eastman (1991-94), Jerry Wainwright (1995-2002), Brad Brownell (2003-06), Benny Moss (2007-10), Brooks Lee (2010-interim) and Peterson (2011-14).
According to UNCW, Keatts was named the third most respected/feared assistant coach in July of 2013 by ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman.
Bass said during a press conference Thursday Keatts understands student athletes and is very excited about coming to UNCW.
"What we were focused on was our current group of student athletes," Bass said. "We were very much focused on their continued development, both as a player and as a student, obviously working toward their degree. Kevin is very much committed to that."
During the press conference Bass expressed the university's interest in getting back in the NCAA tournament in the near future.
"Kevin understands the CAA. He knows what the CAA is," explained Bass. "He knew what happened here from 1998 to 2006 with that run when UNCW was as competitive of a program, a mid major program if I can call it that, in America. So Kevin understands what it takes to compete at that level."
Keatts is known for his recruiting expertise and helped the Cardinals compile two straight top-10 recruiting classes. Additionally, he has coached nine players at the prep level who have reached the NBA.
Details of Keatts' contract have not yet been released.
"He signed it. We signed it and again, we want to hold onto it until it gets fully executed. That was the first step today," said Bass.
Miller said details of the contract will be released when Keatts is in town for a formal press conference.
Bass said Thursday university officials have "worked with the financial folks here on campus and we are very very comfortable with where we're going."