Evans to step aside from coaching

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, August 20, 2019

HARROGATE, Tenn. — Lincoln Memorial University head women’s basketball coach Krystal Evans announced on Monday that she is stepping away from coaching, citing a need to spend more time with her children and be closer to her family.

Assistant coach Eric Brewton, Jr. has been named interim head coach effective immediately and will lead the Lady Railsplitters throughout the duration of the 2019-20 season. A national search for LMU’s next head coach will be conducted during the academic year.

“LMU wishes coach Evans and her family good luck and prosperity as she accepts an administrative role at University of the Cumberlands,” Vice President and Dean of Enrollment, Student Affairs and Athletics Dr. Jody Goins said. “Coach Brewton is a perfect fit to serve as our interim head women’s basketball coach. Eric’s knowledge, passion, and familiarity with the LMU women’s basketball program will provide stability for our student-athletes this season. We look forward to conducting a nationwide search throughout the upcoming academic year.”

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Evans arrived in Harrogate in June 2014 and posted an overall record of 93-67 during her five-year tenure leading the Lady Railsplitters. Her teams made the South Atlantic Conference Tournament semifinals four times and the league’s tournament championship game twice. Prior to Evans taking over the program, LMU had never advanced past the SAC Tournament quarterfinals.

Academics were a priority for coach Evans’ teams as they were near the top of the school’s team grade point average standings and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) academic rankings each year. Ross Mathis won the SAC’s Elite 20 Award, which is given to the player with the highest GPA at the SAC Tournament, in 2017.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here on the sidelines at LMU,” said Evans, “I’d like to thank all my players, friends, family, and co-workers for all their support through the years, in addition to former LMU head women’s coach and athletic director Roger Vannoy for the opportunity to coach here. My daughters (Braylee, Britton, and Brielle – ages 10, nine and eight, respectively) are only young once. The chance to be able to spend more time with them while they are still little and be closer to my family was too much for me to pass up.”

“I love all my players and this year’s team was one I was really looking forward to coaching, but the need to do what is best for my family comes first,” Evans added.

Evans’ 2016-17 squad rewrote the LMU record book while bringing the program to a new level of national prominence. That year’s team started the season 20-0 and 15-0 in SAC play en route to a 28-5 record, which is the best in school history in terms of both wins and fewest losses. Claiming the SAC’s regular season title for the first time in program history, the Lady Railsplitters made their first appearance in the SAC Tournament championship. A week later, they made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002-03 season and second overall. LMU reached the round of 16 and played for the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional title. The squad also entered the national rankings for the first time in school history, rising to fifth in the coaches’ poll and fourth in the media poll.

Tabbed 2017 SAC Coach of the Year, LMU’s first in women’s basketball, Evans was named WBCA Southeast Region Coach of the Year and was also a finalist for national coach of the year.

During her five seasons Evans coached nine All-SAC players, including a SAC Player of the Year and SAC Freshman of the Year. Among Evans’ LMU student-athletes were two D2CCA All-Region performers, two CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees and one CoSIDA Academic All-American. Several of her players earned Astroturf SAC Player of the Week accolades as Evans had the rare opportunity to coach a pair of identical twins in Emily and Rachel Griffith.

Evans departs the program leaving a solid foundation for coach Brewton, including a strong recruiting class highlighted by Tennessee Class AA Miss Basketball Gracee Dishman and several all-district and all-state players.

The Lady Railsplitters’ preseason workouts will begin in a few days.