Lees-McRae College assistant Kris Stewart has been named head basketball coach at Brenau University.
Stewart replaces Gary Bays, the first coach of the five-year-old Golden Tigers' team. Bays resigned at the end of last season after Brenau finished 13-16.
The Atlanta-area native graduated from Duluth High School.
"I know that Brenau is definitely the right place for me and my family," Stewart said. "The newness of the basketball program appeals to me. The team is very young, but very talented. The program has a solid foundation and needs the right person with the right personality to continue building. I believe that my approach to teaching the game will be beneficial to helping this team grow."
Stewart has never been a college head coach. He led Forbush High School in East Bend, N.C., to five straight playoff appearances and a 74-42 record from 2002-07. He was selected Mountain Valley Athletic Conference coach of the year in 2002.
"I am absolutely convinced after looking at numerous resumes and speaking with many candidates from around the country that Kris Stewart is the best person for the job," Brenau Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor said in a news release. "Kris has the personality, the passion, enthusiasm and the wide array of skills the job requires. He made a great connection with the team and our department staff. I am confident he will elevate the stature of our program in many ways."
Stewart earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Lees-McRae and a masters in education from the University of Missouri in Columbia. He has been assistant coach at the NCAA Division II school as well as director of instructional technology on the college's education faculty. Previously, he was director of residence life and associate dean of students at the college.
He served as assistant coach at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, from 2000-02. He coached football and track while teaching English at Forbush and Freedom High School in Morganton, N.C. He and his wife, Holly, have two daughters.
"I think this is a great opportunity for Kris and his family," said Craig McPhail, director of athletics at Lees-McRae in Banner Elk, N.C. "His passion and desire for the game burns bright. The young women of Brenau will be excited to have the chance to play for him. He has a wonderful basketball IQ and solid recruiting connections. Most important, he is a great listener and willing to work hard for the greater good. He will put his heart and soul into building Brenau women's basketball into a great program for many years to come."
Stewart says he is undaunted by the intense competition he faces in the NAIA Southern States Athletic Conference, of which Brenau is a member.
"The conference has a number of talented teams and experienced, veteran coaches," Stewart said. " I'm looking forward to the competition."