JONESBORO — Arkansas State athletics director Terry Mohajir announced Grant McCasland as the 15th head men’s basketball coach in school history Wednesday morning at the Convocation Center.
McCasland is a 17-year coaching veteran holding a 199-44 (.819) record as a head coach.
“Grant McCasland has proven himself as an outstanding coach and recruiter, winning on many levels,” said Mohajir. “He is coming from a program that carried out one of the nation’s biggest turnarounds and then sustained its success. We have high expectations for our men’s basketball program, and we believe Coach McCasland has the skills, drive and determination to build a consistent championship-caliber program here at Arkansas State.”
McCasland spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach at Baylor, helping lead the Bears to NCAA Tournament appearances in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Prior to Baylor, he spent two seasons as the head coach at Midwestern State and led the program to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament. McCasland also has head coaching experience at the junior college level, leading Midland College to the 2007 NJCAA national championship.
“I’m honored and blessed to be the basketball coach at A-State,” said McCasland. “The biggest thing in starting new with a program is making sure that our players, and new guys that will be joining us, know that this is going to be a family. We’re going to do it the right way and we’re going to care about winning, making sure our guys graduate, and that they know the expectation of them is not only on the court and in the classroom, but that they are growing as men. I’m excited about starting that process as soon as possible. It’s a blessing to be around great people and the other great programs and tradition here on campus. I’m thankful to Dr. Welch, Dr. Hudson, and Terry Mohajir for the opportunity and this process was made easy because you can see the passion they have for Arkansas State and athletics. I’m excited to get started and excited about building a winning culture.”
Working on head coach Scott Drew’s staff at Baylor, McCasland has helped the Bears average 26 wins per year, posting a 125-55 record, including a 10-3 postseason mark. The Bears are the fifth seed in the east region and will take on the Yale Bulldogs Thursday (March 17) in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The Irving, Texas native helped Baylor rise to national prominence with five 20-win seasons, five postseason appearances, the Big 12’s first NIT championship and Baylor’s first postseason tournament title in its 107-year history.
“I knew within minutes of meeting Coach McCasland that he was the right person to lead our men’s basketball program,” said Arkansas State University System President Dr. Charles Welch. “He has been a big-time winner at every level, and his energy, enthusiasm, and intensity are infectious. Our fans are going to love him and his family, and I have absolutely no doubt that he will elevate our program the right way and bring winning basketball to the Convo immediately.”
McCasland will join Baylor in its program-best third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance when they tip off against Yale Thursday. The Bears posted a 22-11 mark this season, playing 18 games against teams that are in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Last year, the Bears went 24-10 and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, tying the best seed in program history and recorded the program’s first-ever back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. It was the program’s seventh 20-win season in the previous eight years, accounting for all but three of the 20-win seasons in school history. A school-record seven of Baylor’s 24 wins came against top-25 ranked teams during the 2014-15 campaign.
Baylor became one of just 12 teams nationally to reach three Sweet 16s in a five-year span (2010-14) with a late seasons surge that saw the Bears reach the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Bears advanced to the Big 12 Championship title game and posted 26 wins in the 2013-14 season.
The 2012-13 season saw Baylor become the first Big 12 team to claim a NIT title. The Bears won five straight that culminated with a 20-point win over Iowa in the championship game. In his first season with the Bears (2011-12), McCasland helped the squad to a school-record 30 wins and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament South Region Final, the second in three seasons. Baylor was ranked throughout the season, a first in program history, reaching as high as No. 3 in the polls while not falling below 14th.
Before his five-year stint at Baylor, McCasland spent two seasons as head coach at Midwestern State (Texas), posting a combined 56-12 mark. In the 2010-11 season, McCasland, the Lone Star Conference (LSC) South Division and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) South Region Coach of the Year, saw his Mustangs finish 25-9, win the NCAA Division II South Central Region title and reach the NCAA Division II Elite Eight. The Mustangs were knocked out of the national tournament with a 70-64 loss to eventual champion Bellarmine. The previous season (2009-10) saw Midwestern State earn the LSC South Division title, the LSC Tournament championship, the NCAA Division II South Central Region championship and a berth in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
“In Grant McCasland we have added to the pack at A-State a dynamic professional committed to our core principle of student success and a proven leader of student-athletes,” said A-State Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson. “He is a person of high energy and higher integrity. His character is reflected in his playing days as an Academic All-Conference guard at Baylor, and by the way the men he has mentored excel in the classroom, in their daily lives and on the court. He brings with him a young family that will benefit from and in turn contribute to the quality of life we enjoy in Jonesboro. Together, they will make the growing Red Wolf nation yet stronger and our region more vibrant. Arkansas State is a destination university, and, happily, it is the place where Grant will begin his Division I head coaching career.”
Prior to his tenure at Midwestern State, McCasland spent five successful seasons as the head coach at Midland (Texas) College, taking the reins of the program prior to the 2004-05 campaign. It didn’t take long to see the impact he made on the program as his first season as the head coach resulted in the Region V championship and trip to the NJCAA Elite Eight. In the 2006-07 season, the Chaps finished 29-8 and won the national championship. In his final season in Midland (2008-09), the Chaps finished 33-4 and lost in the national championship game and McCasland ended his time at Midwestern State with a record of 143-32 while earning district, region and national coach of the year honors.
Preceding his time at Midland College, McCaslad was the assistant coach at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., for two seasons (2001-02 and 2002-03). He began his coaching career in Lubbock, Texas, where he served as the Director of Basketball Operations on James Dickey’s staff at Texas Tech in the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons.
“I want to commend our Athletics Director Terry Mohajir for his superb handling of the search process in such a timely manner and especially for identifying yet another outstanding individual to become a part of the athletics staff at A-State,” added Hudson.
A three-year letterman and four-year player for head coach Harry Miller at Baylor, McCasland earned Academic All-Big 12 honorable mention honors in his senior campaign of 1998-99. He graduated from Baylor in 1999 with a degree in entrepreneurship and management and received his master’s degree from Texas Tech in 2001.
Grant and his wife, Cece, have four children: daughters Amaris and Jersey and sons Jett and Beckett.
o Family: Wife, Cece; daughters Amaris and Jersey; sons Jett and Beckett
o College: Baylor, 1999 (B.S.); Texas Tech, 2001 (M.S.)
o 1999-2001 Texas Tech, director of operations
o 2001-03 Northeastern JC, assistant coach
o 2004-09 Midland College, head coach
o 2009-11 Midwestern State, head coach
o 2011-pres. Baylor, assistant coach
o 2004-05 NJCAA, Elite Eight (Midland)
o 2006-07 NJCAA, national champions (Midland)
o 2008-09 NJCAA, finals (Midland)
o 2009-10 NCAA Division II, Elite Eight (Midwestern State)
o 2010-11 NCAA Division II, Elite Eight (Midwestern State)
o 2011-12 NCAA, Elite Eight (Baylor)
o 2012-13 NIT, champions (Baylor)
o 2013-14 NCAA, Sweet 16 (Baylor)
o 2014-15 NCAA, first round (Baylor),
o 2015-16 NCAA, tbd (Baylor)
What they are saying:
Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew
“Coach McCasland is a proven winner. He has won wherever he’s been, and I know he will have the same success at Arkansas State. In addition to being a home run hire on the court, Coach Mac is a great man and a great leader, and he will be a major asset on the campus and in the community. He will truly be missed at Baylor.”
James Dickey, Former Texas Tech head coach and current Oklahoma State assistant coach
“You ought to be ecstatic. He is a wonderful young man. I’m an old Arkansas guy and I know they love basketball in Northeast Arkansas. He will represent Arkansas State and make you all very proud. He is a quality young man with an infectious personality. I’d coached against him when he was a player, and I had watched him work my camp and observed how he conducted himself. I jumped at the chance to hire him to be a part of my team at Texas Tech. He has the whole package – a strong recruiter, great X’s and O’s, and he’ll be a community member. Grant and his family will be great representatives of and ambassadors for A-State basketball, the athletic department, the university, the city of Jonesboro and all of Northeast Arkansas.”