Teri LaJenuese, Sports Information Director
ADA – After spending more than 20 years in collegiate coaching, mostly at NCAA Division I institutions, Chris Crutchfield has accepted the position of East Central University Men’s Basketball Head Coach, as announced by Director of Athletics Dr. Jeff Williams.
“We are excited to announce Chris Crutchfield as the new head coach of the men’s basketball program at East Central University,” said Director of Athletics Dr. Jeff Williams. “Coach Crutchfield has built an impressive reputation within the college basketball community as an elite coach, recruiter and leader. The expertise he brings to our program will make an immense impact upon our players and overall program. I asked our returning players to trust the search committee to bring them a phenomenal coach and I believe we have delivered.”
“We are a formidable basketball team with talented returning players ready to continue winning in a strong basketball league,” Williams said. “The program is poised for upward trajectory in pursuit of our mission, which is for our players to walk across the stage to receive their diploma in one hand while wearing a championship ring on the other. Coach Crutchfield’s past experiences coupled with his vision for our basketball program embodies that mission.”
“We believe Coach Crutchfield will elevate the competitiveness of Tiger basketball and bring a new level of excitement for our fans,” ECU President Dr. Katricia Patricia said. “We look forward to the season with him.”
“I am grateful to ECU President Dr. Katricia Pierson and Director of Athletics Dr. Jeff Williams for offering me the opportunity to become the next head coach at East Central University,” Crutchfield said. “My family and I are excited to impact our students-athletes in a positive way while competing for championships. I can’t wait to develop a relationship with our current student-athletes, alumni and the community of Ada. My family and I are looking forward to a successful work-life balance at ECU.”
Crutchfield has spent the last year at the University of Arkansas as the associate head coach, helping the Razorbacks to a 20-12 record. He also worked to develop Mason Jones, an Associate Press honorable mention All-America and AP co-SEC Player of the Year and was the first Razorback to lead the SEC in scoring (8th in the NCAA).
The prior eight seasons saw Crutchfield at the University of Oklahoma, spending his first five seasons as an assistant coach, before being elevated to the associate head coach in the 2016-17 season. While at OU, the Sooners compiled a 160-105 (.604) overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament six times, including a Final Four berth in 2016.
At OU, Crutchfield was key in signing Buddy Hield and Trae Young. Hield was a two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, claimed the 2016 National Player of the Year in 2016 from four groups (John R. Wooden Award, the Naismith Award, Sports News Player of the Year and the Oscar Robertson Trophy) and was the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Young was a consensus all-American, Wooden Award finalist and 2018 Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year.
Before joining the Sooners, he was an assistant coach at Oral Roberts University for four seasons. The Golden Eagles averaged 20 wins during his tenure and advanced to the postseason in 2008 and 2011. ORU was also a top-3 finisher in the Summit League each season, finishing first in 2008, second in 2009, second in 2011 and third in 2010.
Crutchfield was also on the staff at Texas Christian University for two seasons, where he was the director of basketball operations for one season and an assistant coach for a year. He also made a stop at New Mexico State (2001-05) as an assistant coach under NMSU all-time wins leader Lou Henson. He helped the Aggies to two 20-win seasons and a Sun Belt Conference championship in 2002.
Prior to heading to NMSU, Crutchfield earned his first stint as a head coach, for two years, at Tyler Junior College after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant coach for the Apaches. At the helm, he recorded a 35-28 record and saw a player graduation rate of 91 percent.
Prior to joining the staff at Tyler, Crutchfield as an assistant at the University of Texas-San Antonio for one season. His first coaching positions were at his alma mater, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he was an assistant for one season and a graduate assistant for two years.
The Hopkinsville, Ky., native, graduated from Nebraska-Omaha in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and in 1996 with a master’s degree in health, physical education and administration.
Crutchfield and his wife Jodi have three sons: Derrick, Jalen and Josh.
“I would like to commend the members of the search committee for recognizing the unique opportunity ECU has in hiring Chris Crutchfield,” Williams said. “ECU and Ada is a great place to live, work, learn and play. Numerous highly-qualified coaches expressed interest in this job. Our committee is unanimous that Chris Crutchfield is the right fit for our program and 2020 is the right time for him to lead the Tigers forward. Our alumni, fans and campus community will be impressed with Coach Crutchfield as a person and the leadership he will bring to our basketball program. I’m anxious to watch his team play come November!”