Lennie Acuff, head basketball coach at University of Alabama in Huntsville, is leaving to take the head basketball coaching job at Lipscomb University in Nashville.
The news is expected to be formally announced at a 4:30 p.m. Tuesday press conference.
Lennie Acuff has completed his 22nd season at the helm of the UAH men’s basketball program and during that time, the Chargers have grown into a national power. While at UAH, Acuff owns a 437-214 record to boast an overall record of 554-325 in 29 seasons.
In the 2017-18 season, Acuff earned his 400th win as a head coach in the Gulf South Conference to become the league’s all-time leader in victories, passing GSC legend Ed Murphy who totaled 399 wins in stints at West Georgia, West Alabama, and Delta State.
Under Acuff the Chargers have enjoyed 20 winning seasons, appeared in the Gulf South Conference tournament 18 times, won eight GSC regular season titles, captured three GSC tournament championships, and earned 11 trips to the NCAA tournament. For his efforts, Acuff has been named the NABC District Coach of the Year four times (2000, 2011, 2012, and 2013), and he has been honored as the GSC Coach of the Year a conference-record eight times (1999, 2003, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2016).
Two of Acuff’s trips to the NCAA tournament resulted in Elite Eight appearances as the Chargers won the NCAA South Regional in both 2011 and 2012, and the national quarterfinal berths were part of a terrific span of success that saw UAH in the national polls for 44 straight weeks including a No. 2 ranking to end the 2011-12 season. Making the 2012 South Region title even more special, Acuff won his 400th career game on the sideline in that contest.
The team’s achievements were also recognized on a national level as Acuff’s team was the first Division II program invited to play in the NIT Season Tip-Off in 2012, and the Chargers defeated North Texas in the opening round of the prestigious event.
In total, Acuff’s UAH squad reached the regional final five times in seven years from 2011 to 2017, making the Chargers one of only two teams to perform that feat in the same span.
Acuff’s teams during his tenure of tremendous success have featured several prominent players, including Josh Magette, Zane Campbell, and Jaime Smith who all earned All-American status during their time in Huntsville. Magette was named the Daktronics South Region Player of the Year in 2012 while setting the GSC record for career assists, and Smith earned the South Region Player of the Year award in 2013. All three went on to have professional careers after their playing days in the Rocket City, including Magette who became the first Charger to land on an NBA roster as he appeared in 18 games for the Atlanta Hawks in the 2017-18 season after playing for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBA G League in the 2013-14, 2015-16, and 2016-17 seasons.
Since taking over in Huntsville, Acuff’s teams have featured four first team All-Americans, five GSC Players of the Year, four GSC Freshmen of the Year, and 36 All-Gulf South Conference selections.
Highly respected by his peers in the collegiate coaching ranks, Acuff is one of just two Division II coaches to serve on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors.
Prior to accepting the position at UAH, Acuff served as the head coach at Berry College (Rome, Ga.) for four seasons. He established Berry as one of the premier NAIA programs in the southeast by leading the Vikings to back-to-back 20-win seasons in his final two years. Each of those teams advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament after posting upper division finishes in the regular season.
Acuff’s first head coaching job was at Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss. At the age of 25, he was the youngest head coach at a four-year college in the United States. His three-year tenure proved to be the rebirth of a struggling program. Each of his teams earned conference playoff berths which marked the longest such streak in school history.
Acuff graduated from Shorter College in 1988 where he enjoyed an outstanding basketball career that led to his induction into the 2011 Shorter Athletic Hall of Fame class. The marks he set for assists in a single game, season, and career still hold to this day as Acuff led the Georgia Athletic Conference in assists and finished in the NAIA national top 10 during both his junior and senior campaigns. He was the starting point guard for the Athletes in Action college all-star team which toured Asia and represented the U.S. in the Pre-Olympic Tournament in Seoul, South Korea. Following his playing career, Acuff earned his master’s degree from the University of North Alabama.
Acuff is a native of Huntsville and is married to the former Kelly Gregory of Mobile. The Acuffs are proud parents of two children, Will and Molly.
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