ATLANTA - Ron Hunter, who won 254 games in 17 seasons at IUPUI while earning national notoriety for his humanitarian efforts, has been named the head men's basketball coach at Georgia State University, President Mark P. Becker and Director of Athletics Cheryl L. Levick announced Monday.
While leading IUPUI to 25 or more wins in two of the last four seasons, Hunter has partnered with Samaritan's Feet, an organization that collects shoes for underprivileged children around the world. On Jan. 24, 2008, he coached IUPUI against Oakland in his bare feet to help raise awareness for the cause. By tipoff, Hunter's efforts had raised more than 100,000 pairs of shoes, and to date, that number has climbed well above 250,000.
"Ron Hunter is a proven coach and recruiter who knows what it takes to build a winning program," said Levick. "He brings a tremendous amount of energy and passion, and his teams play an aggressive, up-tempo style that is both entertaining and effective. And his efforts off the court and in the community are truly remarkable. We are delighted to welcome Ron Hunter to the Georgia State family as our men's basketball coach."
Hunter has earned numerous national honors including an NABC Guardians of the Game Pillar Award for Service, the 2009 Giant Steps Award from the National Consortium for Academics and Sport (NCAS), and a Minority Achievement Award from the Center for Leadership Development (CLD).
He was one of seven head coaches who served on the Division I Basketball Academic Enhancement Group, as appointed by late NCAA President Myles Brand, and he is a member of the National Basketball Coaches Association (NABC) Board of Directors.
In his 17 seasons at IUPUI, Hunter guided the program through its transition from the NAIA and Division II level into NCAA Division I and the Summit League. He is the school's winningest coach, both in number of victories and winning percentage, and he led IUPUI to its only appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2003 in just the school's third season as a full-fledged Division I program.
His program recently produced George Hill, the 2008 Summit League Player of the Year who was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft (26th selection) by the San Antonio Spurs.
Hill was the standout for Hunter's 2007-08 IUPUI squad that won a school-record 26 games. The Jaguars led the nation in three-point field goal percentage that year while also ranking in the top five in both field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
In 2009-10, Hunter's Jaguars won 25 games, including the first post-season victory in school history. IUPUI, the Summit League runnerup, earned a berth in the College Basketball Invitational, where the Jaguars defeated Hofstra in the first round before falling to Princeton in double overtime. IUPUI ranked second in the nation in field goal percentage in 2009-10.
Hunter's 2010-11 team earned third place in the conference with a 12-6 mark in conference play, along with an overall record of 19-14, including victories over Big East member USF (69-68) and Summit League champion Oakland (100-88). The Jaguars suffered a 75-64 loss at NCAA No. 1 seed Ohio State and a 56-54 loss to No. 2 seed San Diego State.
Named Summit League Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2006, Hunter led IUPUI to the conference championship game five times from 2002-10, including the 2003 title game victory over top-seeded Valparaiso. Since 2003, the Jaguars have never finished lower than fourth in the league standings, including runner-up finishes in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Sixteen of Hunter's Jaguars received first or second-team all-conference accolades, including two Player of the Year honorees in Hill (2008) and Odell Bradley (2004) as well as Defensive Player of the Year Matt Crenshaw (2004). Another 10 IUPUI players were recognized on the league's All-Newcomer team, including Newcomer of the Year winners Austin Montgomery (2007) and Robert Glenn (2009).
Hunter's teams have shown the ability to knock off top competition on the road, recording victories at Georgia Tech (2001-02), at Northwestern (2002-03) and at Seton Hall (2008-09).
Hunter arrived at IUPUI as head coach in 1994-95 and led the then-NAIA program to a winning record at 16-13 in his first season. His second IUPUI squad posted a 22-7 mark in NCAA Division II, at the time the highest single-season winning percentage in school history.
Winning records followed the next two seasons, and Carlos Knox became a three-time All-American at the Division II level. The program began its transition to Division I and the Summit League in 1998-99.
Hunter's coaching career began in 1987, when he served as an assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During his six seasons at Milwaukee, the school moved from NAIA to NCAA Division II status and eventually to Division I. During Hunter's stint, Wisconsin-Milwaukee amassed an overall record of 111-59, including a 23-4 mark in 1992-93.
Prior to his arrival at IUPUI, Hunter spent one year as the top assistant coach at his alma mater, Miami (Ohio), under current Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek. During that season, the Redhawks were 19-10, finishing second in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and making an appearance in the postseason National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
Hunter, 46, earned his bachelor's degree in education at Miami in 1986 and added a master's in 1987. He was a standout player on strong Miami teams of the mid-1980s, along with high school and college teammate Ron Harper, who went on to a long NBA career. The Redhawks were 81-30 during Hunter's four-year career and earned three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths while winning two MAC championships.
Hunter and his wife, Amy, have two children, Jasmine (22) and R.J. (17).
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT RON HUNTER:
"Ron is one of the class individuals in the sport. Georgia State hit a home run with Ron Hunter. His unbridled enthusiasm for the job and, just as importantly, his passion for a tremendous cause will make him an instant hit in Atlanta and in the CAA."
--Andy Katz, ESPN.com
"I would characterize Ron Hunter as a builder with great enthusiasm. He took the IUPUI program and guided it through amazing growth, from obscurity to respectability with hard work and an upbeat approach. That was not an easy task. He worked around an environment with the Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and Butler basketball programs, so he was operating around a lot of tall trees at IUPUI. That will make him a great fit at Georgia State because of the similar characteristics of competition for that program. Ron's whole body of work is remarkable. Look how fast he took IUPUI to the NCAA Tournament. That is nothing short of being a Michelangelo."
--Floyd Keith, Executive Director of the Black Coaches Association
"This is an outstanding hire for Georgia State University. Ron Hunter has an established track record as a successful Division I head coach. He's a terrific recruiter and a fantastic coach. He and his family will bring a great deal to Georgia State University and the Atlanta community."
--Herb Sendek, Head Coach at Arizona State University
"Ron Hunter is really special. Georgia State is to be congratulated on a great hire. He had tremendous success at IUPUI, and his compassion and humanitarian side is so remarkable. Coach Hunter is going to bring something that will elevate Georgia State University in the consciousness of Atlanta. The community of Atlanta and the University will be taken with him and with the type of basketball program he will build."
--Jim Haney, NABC Executive Director