Austin Claunch named to lead the UTSA men’s basketball program

Editor’s note: Alabama assistant Austin Claunch has been hired as head coach of the UTSA men’s basketball program, it was announced Sunday afternoon. Here’s my story from yesterday:

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Multiple media outlets are reporting that the UTSA Roadrunners are targeting University of Alabama assistant Austin Claunch to become their next head coach in men’s basketball.

Claunch, who has roots in Texas, has worked under Alabama head coach Nate Oats for one season.

The story was broken early Saturday afternoon by Alamo City Hoops. Officials in the Alabama men’s basketball program couldn’t be reached. A UTSA spokesman said in a text, “We have no news regarding our men’s basketball coaching search at this time.”

If a deal can be worked out, Claunch apparently would arrive at UTSA as the youngest men’s basketball head coach in school history (34) and only the third to take the job in their 30s, following Brooks Thompson who was 35 when he was hired in 2006 and Ken Burmeister (38) in 1986.

At the same time, Claunch would bring with him the most victories in Division I of any previous UTSA coach except for one. Stu Starner won 110 games at Montana State before he was hired at UTSA in 1990. Claunch won 90 games at Nicholls State from 2018-19 through 2022-23.

Claunch would become the only man hired for the UTSA job with as many as two Division I regular-season titles on his record. He won Southland Conference titles at Nicholls in 2021 and 2022. Starner won one Big Sky title at Montana State in 1987.

Born in Argentina, Claunch grew up in Texas and played basketball at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston. He also attended and played for Emory College in Atlanta.

In his coaching career, he has worked at George Mason (2012-13) and Clemson (2013-16) and Nicholls State (2016-23). In his first two years at Nicholls, he served as an assistant coach. He was promoted to head coach in 2018.

In five seasons, Claunch went 90-61 overall, including 58-28 in conference.

The UTSA job came open Thursday when coach Steve Henson was told his contract would not be renewed. Henson posted a record of 110-144 in eight years. Most recently, he had suffered three consecutive seasons with 20 or more losses.

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