HUNTINGTON – Marshall Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick has elevated associate head coach Tony Kemper to head women’s basketball coach, the department announced Friday. Kemper, 37, has been with the Thundering Herd for five seasons.
During his time at Marshall, Kemper has assisted in rebuilding a program that progressively increased its win total over the first four seasons – from 9 to 11 to 17 to 21 wins in the 2015-16 season. That 2015-16 win total was the most for Thundering Herd Women’s Basketball in 29 seasons and, for the first time in school history, yielded a first-team All-Conference USA student-athlete for Marshall in Leah Scott.
He helped lead Marshall to two of only three postseason berths in the program’s NCAA history, including its first postseason win in 2014-15 (WBI) and WNIT berth in 2015-16. Kemper has also been heavily involved in the Thundering Herd’s recruiting and academic success, helping sign the 34th-ranked class in 2017 and its group in 2015, which came in 52nd.
In the classroom, the program has placed 28 members on the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll (3.0 cumulative GPA or better) and three more were given the Commissioner’s Academic Medal (3.75).
Kemper came to Marshall from Central Arkansas, where he coached with now-former Marshall head coach Matt Daniel for three seasons.
“I am very appreciative and excited for the opportunity to lead the women’s basketball program at Marshall,” said Kemper. “I want to thank our President, Dr. Jerry Gilbert, Mike Hamrick and (Senior Women’s Administrator) Beatrice Crane Banford for trusting in my ability to continue the progress our program made under Coach Daniel.
“It is such a privilege to continue working with student-athletes who I have had a hand in recruiting to Huntington, a community that my family values greatly. There are many good people and players here now, and also on the way, who can help make us a consistent winner.”
At UCA, Kemper helped the Sugar Bears to their first Division I conference title and three seasons of at least 21 wins. His tutelage of inside players helped gain two Southland Player of the Year honors and a Defensive Player of the Year. Before joining the women’s staff, Kemper served as an assistant coach for the Central Arkansas men’s basketball program for four years.
Two professional players emerged from UCA during those seasons – the leading scorer in Portugal’s Proliga pro league in 2011, Nate Bowie – and professional center Durell Nevels.
Prior to UCA, Kemper was an assistant coach at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College – one of the nation’s most successful junior college programs. At Hutchinson, he oversaw day-to-day operations and directed the Blue Dragons’ strength and conditioning efforts while also serving as a mathematics and physical education instructor.
The Logan, Kansas, native also held the head coaching spot at Quivira Heights High School in Bushton in 2003-04, guiding QHHS to a No. 1 seed to the regional tournament. His coaching career began in 2002-03 as an assistant at Hill City (Kansas) High School.
“The best person for this job is Tony Kemper,” said Hamrick. “He is a man of character who has been instrumental in the program’s growth over the past five seasons. Marshall women’s basketball will be in good hands under his leadership.”
Kemper received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Fort Hays State University in 2001 and a BBA in Business Education in 2003. He also earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Fort Hays in 2008. Kemper and his wife Sandra, a professor at Marshall in the Communications Disorders Department, live in Huntington with sons Brayden and Landry and daughter Jolie.
What They’re Saying About Tony Kemper
Rand Chappell, Former Central Arkansas Men’s Basketball Coach
“Tony Kemper is an extremely hard-working basketball coach. His commitment to young people has shown in the growth of his student-athletes and the programs in which he’s been involved. He will be an outstanding leader for Marshall Women’s Basketball.”
Shayna Gore, Marshall Women’s Basketball sophomore and leading scorer 2016-17
“I want to thank everyone in Marshall’s administration for making this decision. Coach Kemper deserves this opportunity. He has carried himself as a head coach since the day I met him. He is a guy who pushes us in practice and holds us accountable, but also knows when to pick us up, so to speak. I am so happy that he has a chance to be a head coach and overjoyed that it is with us.”
Logan Fraley, Marshall Women’s Basketball sophomore
“I’m extremely excited for Coach Kemper, and for us as a team. I cannot articulate enough how grateful I am to the administration at Marshall for making a decision that has appropriately positioned our program for continued success.”