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Eagles add to hoops coaching staff
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Georgia Southern men’s basketball head coach Mark Byington has announced the hiring of Ben Betts and Rob Burke to his staff for the 2015-16 season.

Betts joins the Eagles as an assistant coach with more than two decades of experience, and comes to Statesboro after a stop at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne. Burke, the new director of basketball operations, joins the Eagles after five years at The Citadel under Chuck Driesell.

Betts replaces former assistant coach Tim Kaine, who recently took an assistant coach position at Murray State under longtime friend Matt McMahon. Burke fills the vacancy left by Cabral Huff, who left Georgia Southern for an assistant coach position at Alcorn State.

Betts was head coach at South Carolina State, and had assistant coaching stints at Oklahoma, VCU, Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, Tennessee State, the College of Charleston and South Carolina State.

“I have known Ben for many years, and I have always had great respect for his work ethic, his professionalism and his knowledge for the game of basketball,” said Byington. “We are lucky to have a coach who has his experience at every level of basketball, including a successful stint at South Carolina State as a head coach, as well as coaching the first pick in the NBA draft at Oklahoma (Blake Griffin). He is not only a great recruiter but a great teacher of the game, and that is a quality I always look for in assistant coaches.

“I feel Coach Betts will be a head coach again at some point and I hope I can help him achieve this goal.”

Betts most recent stop, a one-year stint at IPFW, came after three years at Tennessee State, where he helped guide the team to the 2013 CIT Postseason Tournament.

From 2006-11, he was an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma, where he worked under Jeff Capel. The Sooners qualified for the 2008 and 2009 NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the “Elite Eight” in 2009, and Betts helped to recruit and coach Griffin.

From 2003-06 he was the head coach at South Carolina State, where he led the team to an 18-11 record in his first season and the regular season Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title. He went 19-12 in his second season and 14-16 in his third and final season as head coach of the Bulldogs. Those three seasons, coupled with his 1-2 record as interim head coach at the end of the 1994-95 season, gives him a 52-41 record as a head coach with signature wins over Penn State and Miami (Fla.).

Prior to leading the program at South Carolina State he spent a season as an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth under Capel in 2002-03. From 1997-02, he was an assistant coach at the College of Charleston.

Among the highlights in Charleston are qualifying for the 1999 NCAA Tournament after sweeping through the Southern Conference with a perfect 16-0 record, and a win over third-ranked North Carolina. The team ended the season ranked 16th nationally in each of the two primary Division I polls.

Burke spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach at The Citadel, working under Chuck Driesell.

“I have also known Rob for many years going back to his time as head coach at Spartanburg Methodist,” said Byington. “Recently, Coach Burke has continued to do well at The Citadel as an assistant coach and has accomplished some great achievements during this time. I love the fact that Rob has worked at every level of basketball and has great connections and experience. I know Rob is over-qualified, but I am grateful he wants to be a part of our basketball program. He brings tremendous energy, work ethic and loyalty to our program. Our team and community will really enjoy Rob and his family.”

Burke served as head coach at Spartanburg Methodist College before moving to The Citadel. His teams finished with a record of 112-67 for a .625 winning percentage and averaged 19 wins per season during his six-year run (2004-10).