CINCINNATI – Former Elder and Xavier basketball player Pat Kelsey is jumping up the coaching ladder after taking his Winthrop University team to the NCAA Tournament.
The University of Massachusetts named Kelsey its new head coach Tuesday. The former assistant at Xavier and Wake Forest went 102–59 over five seasons at Winthrop and won two Big South regular season titles.
Kelsey served as the associate head coach at Xavier for two seasons and as an assistant at Wake Forest under Skip Prosser for eight seasons.
UMass, which plays in the Atlantic 10, is longing to reclaim the stature it had in the 1990s under coach John Calipari.
"UMass is a national college basketball brand with a proud, powerful tradition," Kelsey said. "As a player in the A-10, I saw firsthand what the potential is there. I look forward to the challenge of making UMass a major factor on the national level once again."
"Pat has been an important piece of some highly successful programs throughout his career, including the last five years leading the basketball program at Winthrop University," UMass director of athletics Ryan Bamford said. "Coach Kelsey has a detailed plan for every phase of our program and a passionate work ethic providing fuel to reach our goals of building a championship-caliber program."
Kelsey, 41, replaces Derek Kellogg, who was fired after going 15–18 this season.
Kelsey's Winthrop team (26-7) lost to Butler 76-64 in the first round of the tournament. Before reaching the tournament, Kelsey may have been best known nationally for the passionate speech he gave in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., after a game at Ohio State in December 2012.
As a player, Kelsey helped Elder to the 1993 state basketball championship.
As an assistant coach, he walked away from basketball for a year after Prosser, his mentor and friend, died suddenly of a heart attack.
READ about the impact Prosser had on Kelsey.
Under Calipari, the Minutemen were ranked No. 1 for a time during the 1995-96 season and went to the 1996 Final Four with center Marcus Camby. UMass, which lost to Kentucky in the semifinals, had to vacate its place after the NCAA found that Camby and other players had accepted improper gifts from agents.
UMass has only been to the NCAA tournament once since 1998. It made the second round in 2014.