Belmont Unveils New Crockett Center For Athletic Excellence Practice Facility

Members of the Belmont Board of Trustees joining Belmont Athletic Director Scott Corley, University President Bob Fisher with his wife Judy and the head coaches of men’s and women’s basketball teams, tennis team and volleyball team. Photo: By Sam Simpkins/Courtesy of Belmont University

Belmont University has officially opened its new practice facility on Thursday, May 27, now named the Crockett Center for Athletic Excellence, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration.

Outgoing Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher, Director of Athletics Scott Corley and Board of Trustees Chairman Marty Dickens welcomed and addressed a gathering of Belmont student-athletes, alumni and guests.

“This is a historic day for our University and athletic program,” Fisher says. “The Crockett Center for Athletic Excellence serves as a magnificent centerpiece to bridge the proud history and exciting future of Belmont Athletics. Dan is a visionary who understands and values how college athletics can shape a young person’s character and empower them with the drive, persistence and discipline needed to succeed in any chosen career. I am so honored and grateful for Dan’s continued generosity to Belmont, this being the latest example in providing student-athletes resources to thrive academically, athletically and spiritually.”

Pictured (L-R): Caleb Hollander, Grayson Murphy and Tate Pierson of the Belmont men’s basketball team. Photo: by Sam Simpkins/Courtesy of Belmont University

The new Crockett Center for Athletic Excellence will serve as the primary training home for Belmont’s nationally-regarded men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball programs, and complement the existing game day facility at the Curb Event Center. In addition to housing two full courts for basketball and volleyball, the two-story, 45,000 square-foot facility features athletic training and strength and conditioning space, a video room with theatre-style seating, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, conference rooms, equipment rooms and team lounge areas.

The Center, named for local businessman and former owner of Franklin American Mortgage Dan Crockett, connects to the University’s recently-opened tennis facility and serves as the latest example of Belmont’s meteoric rise within NCAA Division I athletics.

Belmont women’s basketball head coach Bart Brooks with his wife and two children. Photo: by Sam Simpkins/Courtesy of Belmont University.

“This is an incredibly special day for me since Dan has been a good friend since we were 13 years old playing baseball on the same Little League team,” says Corley. “Whether in sports or business, he developed a culture that promoted a team-first mentality while pursuing excellence in every detail, which I’m proud to say are also hallmarks of Belmont’s Athletics programs. Having his name on the Crockett Center for Athletic Excellence will remind our student-athletes on a daily basis of our continued commitments to these tenets.”

After being a successful two-sport athlete in football and baseball at Lambuth University, Crockett graduated and began a business career at a small, struggling mortgage broker in Brentwood, Tennessee. In 1994, the firm’s owners gave Crockett the opportunity to purchase the company. At 26, he became a business owner, immediately changing the name to Franklin American Mortgage and establishing a vision to become a Top 20 lender. In 2018, Franklin American sold to Citizens Financial Group. A former member of Belmont’s Board of Trustees, one of Crockett’s daughters is a rising sophomore at Belmont.

Belmont Bruins mascot Bruiser with members of the university’s cheerleading team. Photo: by Sam Simpkins/Courtesy of Belmont University

“Belmont is a visionary place in its mission to reach young people from all walks of life, not only in the United States but abroad as well,” Crockett says. “The University has grown into a larger institution but still connects on a personal level with its students, and athletics is a means to that end. Athletics teach so much to young people – tenacity, resilience, teamwork, leadership, accountability, respect, patience, and discipline, to name a few. Inspiring our youth with the powerful opportunity of athletics is among one of the many things for which I am passionate, and I truly believe the qualities learned help prepare these young men and women for the opportunities that life will bring post-education.”

This new facility comes months after the opening of the new Tennis Courts and parking garage which is directly next to the Crockett Center for Athletic Excellence.

Pictures of the event can be found on the Belmont Bruins website.

Vanderbilt Baseball Start SEC Tournament Against Ole Miss

The Vanderbilt baseball team will try to defend its 2019 SEC Championship tonight when it takes on Ole Miss in Hoover, Alabama at 8 p.m. CST in the SEC Baseball Tournament.

The Commodores have had a great season so far putting together a record of 39-13 overall and a conference record of 19-10. The are currently ranked No. 3 nationally behind SEC rival Arkansas at No. 1 and ahead of cross-state rival and SEC East champ Tennessee (No. 4).

The defending national champions also picked up some major SEC awards early this week. Sophomore and pitching sensation Jack Leiter, son of former Mets and Yankees pitcher Al Leiter, has won SEC Newcomer of the Year, being fifth in ERA with a mark of 2.12, while owning a record of 8-2 on the campaign.

Leiter along with junior Kumar Rocker and freshman Enrique Bradfield Jr. were named to the All-SEC First team. Rocker and Leiter finished first and second, respectively, in strikeouts with a combined, 256 K’s.

Bradfield also took home the SEC Freshman of the Year award and was the only Commodore named to the SEC All-Defense Team. Bradfield is the first Vandy player to win since Tony Kemp in 2011. He ranks among the top three in the SEC across four offensive categories, including: first in stolen bases (42), second in on-base percentage (.478), fourth in batting average (.366), and ninth in runs scored (48).

Vandy enters the conference tournament as the fourth seed taking on Ole Miss, the fifth seed. The tournament is double elimination but, last time around, Vandy won four-straight to clinch the conference title. Ole Miss beat Auburn 7-4 in their first game of the SEC Tournament on Tuesday night led by one inside-the-park from Justin Bench and one outside-the-park from Hayden Dunhurst. Freshman shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, went 4-for-5 at the plate with one double as part of his second career four-hit performance.

The first pitch is set for 8 p.m. CST with freshman Christian Little taking the mound for the Commodores. The full lineups for both teams will be announced later this evening.

Jessica Holman Hired As Belmont Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach

Nashville native and Vanderbilt alumni Jessica Holman has joined the Belmont women’s basketball team as an assistant coach.

Holman grew up on Compton Ave. directly across from Belmont’s campus and attended Hillsboro High School where she was a finalist for Tennessee Miss Basketball.

“I’m excited to welcome Jessica Holman to our coaching staff,” says head coach Bart Brooks. “Growing up across the street from Belmont and competing collegiately in the SEC, she’s been deeply rooted in the Nashville community her entire life.  Jessica embodies everything that’s important to our program at Belmont; she’s an incredibly smart and talented person with the humility of a servant leader. Our student-athletes will benefit greatly from Jessica’s guidance in basketball and beyond, and I can’t wait for our alumni and fan base to meet her!”

Holman was a four-year letterwinner at Vanderbilt University where she received a bachelors degree in Human & Organizational Development and her master’s degree in education with a concentration in Community Development & Action. Holman won 102 games at Vanderbilt and was part of four consecutive NCAA Tournament teams, including Sweet Sixteen appearances in 2008 and 2009. She was also a candidate for the 2010 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which honors the attributes of NCAA Division I senior student-athletes in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.

Holman joins the Belmont women’s basketball program after spending the previous nine-plus years as Senior Director of Employee and Community Relations for Harvest Hands CDC, a Christ-centered non-profit dedicated to educational opportunities, healthy living, spiritual formation and economic development in South Nashville.

Belmont To Play In ESPN Thanksgiving Invitational Tournament

The Belmont Bruins will participate in the 2021 ESPN Events Invitational in Orlando, Florida the week of Thanksgiving.

The event will take place November 25-28 from HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Florida with all games broadcasted on the ESPN family of networks. Joining Belmont in this year’s eight-team field will be Alabama, Dayton, Drake, Iona, Kansas, Miami (FL), and North Texas.

“We’re tremendously excited to be in the ESPN Events Invitational,” says Belmont head coach Casey Alexander. “It is an honor to participate in such a prestigious event that will provide our program with national exposure. As is the case with ESPN Events, this is an impressive field comprised of programs that are proven winners. We look forward to having Belmont fans join us in Orlando during Thanksgiving week.”

This past season, Belmont went 26-4, which included 21 consecutive victories, 30 consecutive conference victories (over two seasons, including tournament), national Top 25 poll votes eight consecutive weeks and the program’s 12th regular season conference championship in 16 years.

Titans Sign Former Vanderbilt Receiver Kalija Lipscomb

Kalija Lipscomb. Photo: by Joe Howell. Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

The Tennessee Titans have signed former Vanderbilt wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb to the team’s roster. Lipscomb joined the team’s rookie minicamp over the weekend as one of four tryout players and was signed on Monday.

In four years at Vanderbilt, Lipscomb caught 198 passes for 2,356 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was signed by the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft and has spent time on practice squads with both the Chiefs and Packers. Lipscomb (6-1, 201) participated in the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl and the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.

The signing comes after the Titans waived receiver Rashard Davis and linebacker Davin Bellamy (non-football injury).

In addition to Lipscomb, former Memphis quarterback Brady White, cornerback Josh Nurse (Utah), and running back Otis Anderson (Central Florida) also took part in the minicamp on a tryout basis, but were not immediately signed.

Belmont Men’s Basketball Coach Casey Alexander Named Coach Of The Year

Casey Alexander. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont men’s basketball coach Casey Alexander has been named Coach of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA.)

Alexander led the Bruins to one of the best regular seasons ever winning 30 consecutive Ohio Valley Conference victories and ending the season with a record of 26-4. The Bruins also had the most wins in the country tied with eventual NCAA Tournament finalist Gonzaga.

An alumni of Belmont, Alexander become head coach in 2018 replacing legendary head coach Rick Byrd who won over 800 games in 30 years with the Bruins. Since then, Alexander led Belmont to a 52-11 record, consecutive Ohio Valley Conference regular season championships, and the 2020 OVC Tournament title

Alexander was also a candidate for the Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year and finalist for the Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year Award, the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award, and the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award.

Alexander’s award comes just a day after women’s basketball coach Bart Brooks was awarded women’s Coach of the Year by the TSWA.

Belmont Women’s Basketball Coach Bart Brooks Named Coach Of The Year

Belmont women’s basketball coach Bart Brooks. Photo: Courtesy of the Belmont Vision/Bronte Lebo.

Belmont women’s basketball coach Bart Brooks has been named 2020-21 Coach of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA.)

Brooks led the Bruins to their third Ohio Valley Conference Championship in four years as well as the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win, beating No. 5 seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs 64-59. They are the first OVC team to win a NCAA Tournament game since 1990.

The Bruins’ record of 21-6 was the sixth consecutive season where they won 20 or more games. Brooks picked up his 100th win in the NCAA Tournament and he ranks 10th nationally in win percentage (.794) among active head coaches.

Brooks, a Wyoming native, joined the program in 2017 from DePaul as an assistant coach. He has become the third-fastest head coach to 100 career victories in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history.

College Corner: Vanderbilt NFL Draft, Belmont Tennis, MTSU Golf

Vanderbilt’s Dayo Odeyingbo Drafted By The Colts In The 2021 NFL Draft

Dayo Odeyingbo. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Former Vanderbilt defensive lineman Dayo Odeyingbo was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts with the 54th overall pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft on Friday (April 30).

A three-year starter and All-SEC second team selection in 2020, Odeyingbo played in 44 career games with 29 starts for the Commodores. He collected 125 tackles, 31.0 tackles for loss, 12.0 sacks, one interception, one caused fumble, two fumble recoveries and 22 quarterback pressures. He has the fifth most tackles for loss in program history.

Odeyingbo’s selection gives the Commodores at least one pick in each of the past six NFL Drafts.

 

Belmont Men’s Tennis Wins OVC Championship

Belmont men’s tennis team. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics/Seth Raborn

The Belmont Men’s Tennis team will be taking on Ole Miss in the NCAA Tennis Tournament in Oxford, Mississippi on Saturday (May 8).

The Bruins punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Tennessee Tech 4-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship, their first ever.

“We are extremely excited to play in the NCAA Tournament,” says Belmont Director of Tennis Mauricio Antun. “We worked hard all these years and to finally see it pay off means a lot for these guys and this program. I am particularly happy for our seniors, who have gotten so close to making the tournament in previous years and will finally have a chance to taste the experience. I would also like to thank all of our former players, who worked hard to put this program on the national stage and they deserved this moment as well.”

Belmont finished the season with a 13-4 record, led by senior and 2021 OVC Men’s Tennis Player of the Year Marko Ilic. Ilic, a three-time All-OVC First Team honoree, ranks fourth in program history in career singles victories with 58.

 

MTSU’s Men’s Golf Team Wins Conference Championship

MTSU men’s golf team. Photo: Courtesy of MTSU Athletics

The MTSU Men’s Golf team won the Conference USA Tournament Championship on Thursday, April 29, marking it’s third straight championship.

The Blue Raiders punched their ticket to the NCAA Men’s Golf Regionals, after defeating North Texas 3-0.

“I’m just so happy for these guys to get to experience this,” says head coach Mark McEntire. “I’ve told a lot of people that this is the best team I’ve ever coached, and now they get to go showcase what they can do on a national level at NCAA Regionals and hopefully beyond.”

The NCAA Regional selection show takes place Wednesday, at 1 p.m. CST and will be televised on the Golf Channel, while Regionals will be played May 17-19.