|Arkansas-Little Rock athletics photo
Berry athletic director, Todd Brooks, announced today the hiring of Mitch Cole to serve as Berry’s new head men’s basketball coach.
“We are extremely pleased and excited that Mitch has agreed to become our next head men’s basketball coach,” Brooks said. “He is a consummate professional and talented coach that brings a wealth of experience and proven success with him. His previous Division III experience and familiarity with the other institutions in the Southern Athletic Association makes him an ideal fit.”
Cole replaces Jeff Rogers, who resigned after an 11-18 season which ended with Berry sweeping the conference tournament as the No. 8 seed and reaching the NCAA Tournament.
Cole will join the Vikings as the 12th head coach in program history after serving as the assistant men’s basketball coach at Arkansas-Little Rock for the past two years. Cole spent the previous five seasons on the staff at Texas A&M and was formerly the head coach at current Southern Athletic Association member, Birmingham-Southern.
“I would like to thank athletics director Todd Brooks, and the search committee for the opportunity to become the head men's basketball coach at Berry College,” Cole said. “I appreciate the leadership of president Stephen Briggs and dean Debbie Heida, and I look forward to the shared responsibility of serving our student-athletes. With a world-class campus, top-tier facilities, and a winning athletic culture, Berry is a place where we hope to attract championship level student-athletes. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about building a basketball program that will make the incredible people at Berry College proud.”
Cole was part of Billy Kennedy’s teams at Texas A&M that won 49 games over two seasons, including a program-record 28 in 2015-16. The Aggies climbed as high as No. 5 in the AP Top 25 and USA TODAY Coaches Poll, achieving the highest ranking in school history.
Texas A&M went on to win the regular-season SEC championship in 2015-16 to earn its first league title since 1986. The Aggies reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament to cap one of the best seasons in program history. Cole was also on the bench that season when Texas A&M pulled off the biggest last-minute comeback in NCAA Tournament history over Northern Iowa.
Cole came to A&M after one of the most successful seasons in BSC men’s basketball history, leading the Panthers to a 23-4 overall record in 2010-11 and winning the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship with a 14-2 conference mark. The Panthers ended the season by winning the NCAA Division III Provisional tournament championship in Steubenville, Ohio. Cole earned D3hoops.com South Region Coach of the Year honors at the conclusion of the year.
Taking over as the college’s 12th men’s head basketball coach at BSC in 2006, Cole was tasked with rebuilding the program from scratch as a result of BSC’s move from NCAA Division I to Division III. He quickly built the Panthers into a contender, achieving a 13-12 record with 15 freshmen in 2007-08. Two years later, the Panthers went 20-5 and won the SCAC East Division title. In his last two seasons at BSC, Cole’s teams went 43-9, leading the SCAC in scoring each year.
Cole spent 11 seasons as an assistant under Hall of Fame coach Duane Reboul prior to taking over as head coach of the Panthers. He was instrumental in the success of a program that amassed over 300 wins during his tenure at BSC. In 2000, Cole assisted in the school’s transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division I. Despite recruiting and coaching with a ban on postseason play for five seasons, Cole managed to successfully recruit and develop players who propelled BSC into immediate success in Division I.
After a successful 19-9 season in 2002-03, BSC went 20-7 in 2003-04 and won the Big South Conference championship. That season, the Panthers led all of Division I in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting 43 percent from the arc.
From 1996-2000, the Panthers made five consecutive trips to the NAIA national tournament. Cole helped direct an offense ranked No. 1 in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage during the 1996-97, 1997-98, and 1998-99 seasons. The Panthers consistently ranked in the top-five nationally in field goal percentage, and led the nation in 1997-98. During his 16 years at BSC, Cole recruited and developed numerous All-American and All-Conference performers while achieving one of the nation’s highest graduation rates.
A New Orleans, native, Cole graduated from Holy Cross High School in 1988. He played collegiately at Montana State University-Billings, where he double majored in history and education and graduated in 1992. Cole went on to earn his master’s in education from Auburn while working as a graduate assistant with the basketball team.
He and his wife, Amy, have three children: daughter Laura Kate and sons Carson and Joshua.