PIKEVILLE, Ky. - University of Pikeville Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kelly Wells will step down from his position, effective at the end of the current season, and will transition to devoting his full attention toward his post as the university’s Director of Athletics.
“This was an extremely difficult decision to make, but one that I’m at peace with,” Wells said. “It’s going to be incredibly tough for me to walk away from the job I’ve loved for half my life now, but it’s time to begin this next chapter for both myself and my family. I wouldn’t have been able to even get to this point without the love and support of my wife, my children, my parents, and all my friends and colleagues I’ve made in this profession.”
The 2019-20 academic year marks the second in Wells’ tenure as Director of Athletics. Progress with his role has been seen across the division, including the establishment of an all-purpose turf practice complex as well as a renovated baseball/softball hitting facility.
“We are so thankful for Kelly’s commitment to our students and his extraordinary leadership as we continue making an impact,” UPIKE provost Lori Werth said. “Kelly displays a shared vision for student success and we are honored he will serve in the Director of Athletics role.”
Wells leaves the men’s basketball program as the winningest coach in university history, with 328 total wins as of his announcement across his 14 seasons in Pikeville. He also boasts the best winning percentage by any Pikeville basketball coach with more than a four-year tenure.
The Morehead, Ky., native put UPIKE men’s basketball on the map nationally in his time as coach, leading the Bears to eight of their 13 NAIA tournament appearances, including the last seven straight.
His crowning achievement came in his first NAIA tournament appearance when he led the unseeded Bears on a Cinderella run through the tournament, defeating five seeded opponents in seven days to bring home Pikeville’s first NAIA National Championship. He was also named the 2011 NAIA Coach of the Year following that championship season.
Wells has coached 24 NAIA All-Americans at Pikeville, including two NAIA Players of the Year in Bruce Reed in 2014 and Kenny Manigault in 2015, as well as 34 All Mid-South Conference honorees.
Before coming to Pikeville, Wells had already built an illustrious career in the high school circuit, coaching three seasons at Marion County High School and eight seasons at Mason County where he led the Royals to the 2003 KHSAA State Championship. During this time Wells was named two-time Coach of the Year. He also spent a single season at Hawai’i Pacific before coming to Pikeville.
Across his entire coaching career, Wells has earned nearly 550 wins across all levels of competition.
There will be a celebration of Wells’ career during UPIKE’s last MSC home game of the season at 4 p.m. on February 22 against Cumberlands (Ky.) at Appalachian Wireless Arena.