FIU Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia announced on Friday, the hiring ofJeremy Ballard as the ninth head coach in the history of the FIU men’s basketball program.
“Excitement and joy do not even begin to describe the emotions that I feel becoming the FIU head basketball coach,” Ballard said. “I have always admired FIU from afar and felt it could be a championship program. I am thrilled to be joining the South Florida community and cannot wait to build a culture that the greater Miami area can be proud of. ”
“Our coaching staff will be chomping at the bit to build relationships with the high school and AAU coaches and players all over this talent-rich state,” Ballard added. “We’ll ensure them that FIU is the ideal place to thrive on the court and in the classroom. I am overcome with pride in being FIU’s coach, and I am thrilled for Panther Pride to become contagious all over Florida.”
Ballard arrives at FIU after serving as associate head coach at VCU in 2017-18. He has spent 14 seasons as an assistant coach at the Division I level with coaching stints at Pitt, Illinois State, VCU, Tulsa and his alma mater Colgate.
“I’m extremely pleased to welcome Jeremy Ballard as our new men’s basketball coach,” Garcia said. “He comes from programs with winning cultures and has learned from some of the best coaches in Division I. He has a knack for developing players on and off the court and helping them to the next level. Being a graduate of a top liberal arts school in Colgate, I know he’ll continue to uphold our standards for our players in the classroom. We are very fortunate to have Jeremy join us at FIU.”
As associate head coach at VCU, Ballard was reunited with current VCU head coach Mike Rhoades, who he coached with prior on the staff of former VCU head coach and current Texas head coach Shaka Smart. Ballard’s main focus was VCU’s defense. The Rams finished 18-15 this past season and advanced to the Atlantic 10 Conference Quarterfinals. Forward Justin Tillman was named All-Atlantic 10 Conference First Team, as well as to the All-Defensive Team.
His most successful stretch came with the Rams from 2012-15. Ballard helped lead VCU to a 79-28 mark and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances during his initial tenure in Richmond from 2012-15. During that time, VCU won at least 26 games each season and finished each season ranked in the Associated Press Top-25. In all, Ballard coached three eventual NBA players at VCU, including Troy Daniels, Briante Weber and Treveon Graham.
Ballard is now the sixth former Smart assistant to become a head coach. Rhoades, Will Wade (LSU), Mike Jones (Radford), Jamion Christian (Mount St. Mary’s) and Mike Morrell (UNC Asheville) are the others.
Ballard served as an assistant on Kevin Stallings’ Pitt staff during the 2016-17 season, where he coached All-ACC Third Team and USBWA All-District II forward Michael Young and All-ACC Honorable Mention selection Jamel Artis. Young led the ACC in scoring averaging 19.6 points per game. Young went on to sign with the Washington Wizards while Artis signed with the Orlando Magic.
In 2015-16, Ballard helped guide Illinois State to an 18-14 overall record and a 12-6 Missouri Valley Conference mark, which tied for second place and signified ISU’s highest league finish and most conference wins since 2007-08. Working primarily with Illinois State’s forwards, Ballard helped MiKyle McIntosh earn MVC Most-Improved Team accolades. McIntosh was also a 2016 All-MVC Honorable Mention Team selection.
In 2014-15, Ballard helped VCU to its first Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament title. VCU was ranked as high as No. 10 in the Associated Press Top-25 Poll during that period, and on his watch, the Rams earned five all-conference accolades, including two first-team honors.
During his first year as an assistant with the Rams, Ballard worked closely with shooting guard Troy Daniels, who would set a VCU single-season school record with 124 3-pointers. Daniels has since played for four NBA franchises. He signed a multiyear contract extension with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2016 and currently is with the Phoenix Suns.
Ballard’s three seasons on Smart’s staff at VCU (2012-15) were preceded by five seasons at Tulsa (2007-12) where he helped guide the Golden Hurricane to 109 victories, including three 20-plus win seasons. Tulsa had nine all-conference honorees, including a first-team selection in each of his final four seasons with the Golden Hurricane. Ballard either recruited or coached three NBA players – Jordan Clarkson, Jerome Jordan and Ben Uzoh – during his time at Tulsa.
In his first season, Tulsa piled up 25 wins and a berth in the Conference USA championship game. The Golden Hurricane eventually won the inaugural College Basketball Invitational Championship and that postseason appearance was followed by back-to-back National Invitation Tournament showings.
Prior to his time with the Golden Hurricane, Ballard was an assistant at his alma mater Colgate University (2004-07). During his time as a student-athlete at Colgate, Ballard won the prestigious ECAC Merit Medal Award twice, becoming only the third player in Colgate history to do so. He twice earned Patriot League Academic Honor Roll recognition and was given the title of the team’s best defensive player by the coaching staff during his senior season. Ballard also served as a captain during his senior season.
An Atlanta native, Ballard graduated from Colgate in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in religion. He has a son, Khalif Jamal.