YSU names Ethan Faulkner as next men’s basketball head coach

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes. New YSU head coach Ethan Faulkner calls out a play during the Penguins' win over Navy this past season.

YOUNGSTOWN — In the wake of former coach Jerrod Calhoun’s departure to Utah State, Youngstown State has named its next men’s basketball coach.

Ethan Faulkner, who first joined the program in 2019 as an assistant coach on Calhoun’s staff, was officially named as the program’s 14th head coach in program history Monday afternoon, according to a press release. Faulkner was promoted to head coach from his previous position as associate head coach.

“We feel very fortunate to have someone of Ethan’s caliber step into this role and lead our program,” athletic director Ron Strollo said in a statement. “It was important for us to make this decisive decision to assure our current players, portal transfers, high school recruits, and supporters that the program will continue to succeed. Ethan has earned the trust of our student-athletes along with our recruits, and he worked hand-in-hand with Coach Calhoun to create and maintain a winning culture.”

YSU will introduce Faulkner with a press conference on Rosselli Court at the Beeghly Center on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 10.

The Tribune Chronicle and Vindicator first reported late Friday night that Faulkner was the favorite to succeed Calhoun, according to a source, after ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Calhoun would be leaving to take the Utah State job.

The Aggies officially announced Calhoun’s hire on Saturday morning, shortly followed by a statement from YSU that confirmed Calhoun’s departure.

“I want to thank Jerrod for the incredible impact he made on our men’s basketball program, on the lives of our student-athletes, and our Youngstown community,” Strollo said in Saturday’s statement. “He and his wife, Sarah, made Youngstown their home and invested in our Mahoning Valley. He brought Youngstown State its first basketball conference championship, and our program continues its upward trajectory. Coach Calhoun was a driving force in facilitating our upcoming Beeghly Center renovations, which are set to begin on May 6, 2024. We wish Jerrod, Sarah, and their family the best of luck at Utah State University.”

CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein then confirmed the Tribune Chronicle and Vindicator’s reporting on Saturday afternoon with a report that YSU would tap Faulkner for the head coaching job.

“I’m honored to be the next head coach at Youngstown State,” Faulkner said in Monday’s press release. “I want to thank athletic director Ron Strollo, YSU President Bill Johnson, and our Board of Trustees for their support and confidence in me. I also want to thank Jerrod Calhoun for everything he has done for me personally and our basketball program. YSU basketball has never stood on firmer ground. Our staff and I will work tirelessly to ensure our positive momentum continues with the ultimate goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament.”

YSU wanted to move forward swiftly with its coaching search with the transfer portal still open. This weekend is also the men’s Final Four in Phoenix, which is the site for this year’s annual National Association of Basketball Coaches Convention.

The convention provides coaches with the opportunity to network and also meet with and interview prospective assistant coaches, allowing Faulkner to fill out his staff.

The Penguins have been on an upward trend during Calhoun’s tenure, and Faulkner’s hiring provides continuity for a program that is currently undergoing its most successful period in its Division I history.

Faulkner played a key role in guiding the Penguins to five straight winning seasons for the first time in YSU’s Division I era (since 1981-82). Over the last three years, the Penguins have won a Horizon League-best 41 conference games and a league-high 65 games overall.

YSU just completed a 22-10 record this past season after going 24-10 and winning its first Horizon League regular season championship last season. This marks the first time the Penguins have compiled back-to-back 20-plus win seasons in their Division I history.

With five players completing their eligibility this past season and two more departing so far via the transfer portal this offseason, Faulkner will be tasked with rebuilding YSU’s roster.

Faulkner played college basketball at Horizon League rival Northern Kentucky and was a two-year captain before graduating in 2014. He played in 117 games with 73 starts in his career.

Prior to first arriving at YSU in 2019, Faulkner served as an assistant coach for three years at University of the Cumberlands, one season at Mount Vernon Nazarene University and one season as an assistant at Northern Kentucky.

Have an interesting story? Contact Neel Madhavan by email at nmadhavan@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @NeelMadhavan.


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