|Stephen Ernst is Olivet's new head coach after leaving his position at Charlotte (Mich.) High School midway through last season.
Lansing (Mich.) State Journal file photo
Olivet named Stephen Ernst as its new head men's basketball coach on an interim basis, replacing Chris Coles. Ernst was not part of the Comets' staff last season and left his job at a local high school under unusual circumstances.
Olivet College Athletic Director Ryan Shockey named Ernst the interim head coach for the 2016-17 season and announced that a national search would be conducted after the season for a permanent replacement.
"I want to thank Steve for taking on this new and expanded role for our men's basketball program," said Shockey in a release. "He is in charge of all aspects of the program at this time. He will manage the day-to-day operations of the program, including recruiting prospective student-athletes."
Ernst joined Olivet's program as an assistant coach in April after the Comets' season had ended. He was most recently the head coach at Charlotte (Mich.) High School for 14 months. The Olivet College release cites medical reasons for Ernst's resignation in January 2016, but the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal has previously reported that Ernst resigned because of tension with the school's administration over the number of technical fouls that he received.
At the time Ernst said he was required to meet Charlotte school officials for a "fact finding" meeting related to his technical fouls, with the threat of suspension if he did not attend. He told the Lansing Journal, "When I heard that, I decided I was not going to be suspended or fired."
Ernst does have a connection to the Olivet program. He earned a bachelor's degree from Olivet in 1991 and played basketball at MIAA rival Alma. He then coached as an assistant at Glen Oaks Community College in Centreville, Mich. and worked as a volunteer assistant at Division II Grand Valley State. After one season with the Lakers, he began a successful high school coaching career at Grand Rapids Central, Lansing Christian High School and Cheboygan High School.
"I want to thank Ryan Shockey and President (Steven) Corey for the chance to coach at my alma mater," said Ernst in a release. "I look forward to working with the student-athletes and putting together a team which makes our fans and entire Olivet community proud of them on the court and in the class room. In addition, I am committed to providing a first-class experience for our student-athletes, and I will make sure that happens."
Ernst replaces Chris Coles who went 23-77 in four seasons with the Comets. Olivet finished 3-22, 2-12 in the MIAA last season.