Posted: August 7, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Murray H. Goodman ’48 Head Men’s Basketball Coach Billy Taylor has accepted an offer to become the head men’s basketball coach at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Taylor, who was the 26th head coach in Lehigh history, led the Mountain Hawks to their first Patriot League Championship in 2004 as well as two of the winningest seasons in school annals (2003-04, 2005-06) during his five seasons on South Mountain.
“I have been offered and accepted the position at Ball State University,” an emotional Taylor explained on Tuesday evening. “This was a very difficult decision because of the strong feelings I have for the student-athletes in the program, the members of the Lehigh Athletics Department, and other university personnel who have made this such a wonderful experience for me and my family.”
He continued, “I am thankful and grateful for the opportunity to have represented Lehigh as the head basketball coach and leader of this program for the past five years. I know I have made a lasting, positive, impact on the student-athletes in the program and I leave the men’s basketball program in a better position than when I came here.” He concluded, “Going forward I have full confidence that (Lehigh Goodman Dean of Athletics) Joe Sterrett will have the wisdom to understand what is important for the continued academic and athletic success of the program. I sincerely wish the current and incoming Lehigh University student-athletes nothing but success.”
“I would like to thank Billy Taylor for his dedication to Lehigh during his time here and for the job he did with our men’s basketball program,” Lehigh Goodman Dean of Athletics Joe Sterrett commented. “Unfortunately, I think the timing of this is less than ideal. I hope this move turns out to be the right one for Billy.”
During his time at Lehigh, Taylor led the Mountain Hawks to a record of 52-16 in competitive results at Stabler Arena, the best mark in school history, which included a school record 16-game winning streak. In each of his first two seasons, Taylor was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year, including 2002-03 when he led the Brown and White to an 11-game improvement over the season before – the second largest turnaround in the nation that season. Among Taylor’s many accomplishments at Lehigh are having coached the school’s first-ever Patriot League Player of the Year (Austen Rowland - 2004) and Rookie of the Year (Marquis Hall - 2007), the school’s first-ever postseason All-American (Rowland), six All-League selections, four All-Rookie Team honorees and three All-Tournament Team performers.
Prior to Lehigh, Taylor coached for three seasons at North Carolina – Greensboro where he was the top assistant under former Lehigh head coach Fran McCaffrey. During his time at UNCG the Spartans earned an NCAA Tournament berth (2000) and they recorded the highest RPI ranking in school history (2001). Taylor began his coaching career at his alma mater, Notre Dame, where he served under John MacLeod.
Taylor graduated from Notre Dame in 1995 where he earned four varsity letters and started 79 of 112 games, scoring 577 points and pulling down 300 career rebounds along the way. A native of Illinois, Taylor graduated from West Aurora High School.
Taylor leaves Lehigh to lead a Ball State program that competes in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and finished the 2006-07 season with a record of 9-22. He will be formally introduced at a press conference on Wednesday morning beginning at 11:00 at Worthen Arena. The press conference will be shown live at ballstatesports.com.
Lehigh returns seven letterwinners for the 2007-08 season, including four starters.