NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State University has announced the hiring of Brian “Penny” Collins as the Head Coach of the TSU men’s basketball program. Collins will be introduced at an 11 a.m. press conference at Hankal Hall’s Tigers Den on campus today (Monday, March 26). The event is open to the public and will stream live on the TSU Athletics Facebook page.
Collins is the 18th head coach in program history. The Nashville native returns to his hometown for his first Division I head coaching position at the age of 34.
A former member of TSU’s coaching staff, Collins spent the 2017-18 season as an assistant coach at Illinois State under Dan Muller. In his lone season in Normal, Ill., Collins helped propel the Redbirds to an 18-15 record and a berth in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship Game. Collins’ teams have played in their conference’s championship game in each of the past five seasons.
He served as an assistant coach at East Tennessee State during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons in a span when the Buccaneers went 51-20. During his time in Johnson City, Tenn., Collins got his first taste of the NCAA Tournament from a coaching perspective when the Bucs won the Southern Conference Tournament Championship in 2017 – earning a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
A former standout during his playing career at Belmont, Collins got his start in the coaching industry as a graduate assistant at TSU under then-head coach Cy Alexander during the 2007-08 season. He became TSU’s Director of Basketball Operations in 2008-09.
Collins moved on to work as the assistant coach at Cumberland University (NAIA) in Lebanon, Tenn. for three seasons.
In his first head coaching experience, Collins led Columbia State, a community college in Columbia, Tenn., from 2012-15. His tenure at Columbia State was highlighted by back-to-back NJCAA National Tournament appearances, including runs to the Elite Eight in 2014 and the Sweet 16 in 2015. Collins was named 2014 Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Coach of the Year and 2015 NJCAA District 7 Coach of the Year after winning the Region 7 Championship.
Collins, who played his high school basketball at nearby Whites Creek, starred at Belmont for Rick Byrd. Then a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Collins served as a co-captain for the Bruins in their first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament appearance during his senior year in 2006. Collins, who was a four-year starter, scored 1,199 career points and graduated as Belmont’s all-time leader for assists and steals in the Division I era.