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Bret Campbell returning to Austin Peay roots

Bret Campbell returning to Austin Peay roots
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Bret Campbell’s Ohio Valley Conference coaching career has essentially come full circle.
Campbell, the head men’s basketball skipper at UT Martin for 10 seasons from 1999-2009 and the director of basketball operations at Murray State last year, has rejoined the staff of Dave Loos at Austin Peay as a fulltime assistant coach.
Campbell, who led UT Martin to its first and only Ohio Valley Conference hoop championship during the 2008-09 season when he was named the league’s coach of the year, previously served as Loos’ assistant for seven seasons before being named to the Skyhawk post.
He was a part of Billy Kennedy’s MSU staff last season when the Racers won a school-record 31 games, both the regular season and OVC Tournament championship, and upset Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual national runnerup Butler.
The new APSU aide will be reunited with his old boss, Loos — the longest tenured OVC head coach (20 seasons) and athletics director (since 1997), and the only person in Division I to serve in both of those roles simultaneously.
“I have a great deal of respect for Coach Loos, not only for what he’s done during his tenure in the Ohio Valley Conference, but for the regard he’s held in throughout the entire Southeast,” Campbell told The Messenger Wednesday night. “And everybody who knows him and has had dealings with him recognizes that he’s a very fair administrator as an athletic director as well.
“I think it’s a great situation for me because of my familiarity with both Coach Loos and the program. It’s an area that I thoroughly enjoyed in my time there before, and I’ve maintained some good friends and close ties there.”
The 49-year-old Campbell was essentially forced to resign from at UTM last June after an internal audit found he violated school policies by cashing checks for summer camps and depositing the money in a personal bank account.
University officials insisted he should have deposited the checks into a school account — a protocol set by the University of Tennessee system.
Campbell insisted he paid officials and other camp expenses with the checks from the account, and no legal charges or NCAA sanctions came from the internal investigation.
He was hired at Murray State the following month.
The last two of Campbell’s 10 seasons at UTM were easily his best.
He — along with two-time league Player of the Year Lester Hudson — led the Skyhawks to consecutive OVC Tournament semifinal appearances. In the second of those years, his troops won a school-record 22 games and the first OVC basketball regular season championship since the school joined the Division I ranks and the league in 1992.
UTM also made its first-ever appearance in the National Invitational Tournament in 2009, losing a close decision at Auburn.
Ironically, Campbell was the second-longest tenured coach in the OVC, behind only Loos, when he was given an ultimatum after the findings of the audit that was completed in 2008.
Having turned the page now, Campbell believes his head coaching experience will be an asset to the 63-year-old Loos in his new duties as an assistant for the Governors.
“My time in the league as a head coach will hopefully be beneficial to Coach (Loos) and the Austin Peay program and will help me be a better assistant, too, I believe,” continued Campbell, who said he’d likely be interested in returning to the head coaching ranks in the future.
“We’ve know each other for a long time, both as allies and opposing coaches, and I consider him a good friend. He helped me a great deal at the beginning of my career, and I think it’s a great opportunity for me to get back fully into the coaching business.”
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 7.1.10

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