Lebo headed to plains

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 9, 2004

AUBURN – Auburn Interim President Ed Richardson announced Thursday that Jeff Lebo has been named Auburn’s head men’s basketball coach. Lebo, who spent the last two seasons as the head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, becomes the 19th coach in Auburn basketball history.

“I am excited about the opportunity to coach basketball at Auburn,” said Lebo. “I have been at Auburn a number of times as an opposing coach and I found it a difficult place to play. Since that time, I am convinced Auburn is a place that can have competitive success in basketball on a consistent basis. I was impressed with the commitment that the administration demonstrated towards having a successful program on the court and in the classroom. I look forward to getting started and building a program that will succeed in both areas.”

As a coach, Lebo has been a part of six conference championships, five NCAA Tournament appearances and two berths in the NIT. In six seasons as a head coach including two at UTC and four at Tennessee Tech, he compiled a 115-63 record.

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“I am pleased to welcome Jeff Lebo to the University and the Auburn community,” said Richardson. “In our discussions during the search process, Coach Lebo indicated he clearly understands the balance between athletics and academics. As a matter of fact, Jeff was an Academic All-ACC selection as a student. His commitment to the ideal of student-athletes makes him the right person for our program. I anticipate a long and productive tenure for Jeff at Auburn University.”

As head coach at UTC, Lebo posted a 40-20 record in two seasons. He inherited a team without a returning starter and guided the Mocs to a 21-9 record in 2002-03. Last season, UTC finished 19-11 and advanced to the title game of the Southern Conference Tournament.

“We’re pleased and privileged to announce Jeff Lebo as the new basketball coach at Auburn,” said Hal Baird, Athletic Assistant to the President. “He brings a wealth of experience and success as a player at North Carolina under the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history and followed that with successful coaching tenures at two SEC schools as an assistant. As a head coach, he resurrected two programs at Tennessee Tech and Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is widely recognized as one of the young rising coaching stars in NCAA basketball.”

In four seasons as head coach at Tennessee Tech, Lebo totaled a 75-43 record. Prior to his arrival, the Eagles had posted only one winning record in the previous five seasons, but Lebo turned the program around, leading Tennessee Tech to consecutive Ohio Valley Conference championships in 2000-01 and 2001-02. He earned OVC Coach of the Year honors in 2000 and 2001.

After a 12-15 record in his first season at Tennessee Tech, Lebo led the Eagles to a 16-12 mark in 1998-99 which was the most wins for the program since 1989-90. The following season, Tennessee Tech finished with a 20-9 record and a 13-3 mark in the OVC to earn the program’s first conference championship since 1984-85. It was also the program’s first 20-win season since 1946-47.

Lebo led the Eagles to their second consecutive championship in 2001 after guiding the team to a 27-7 overall record and 15-1 league mark. Tennessee Tech earned a berth in the NIT tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Prior to becoming head coach at Tennessee Tech, Lebo spent eight years as an assistant coach at three schools, East Tennessee State, Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

As an assistant at East Tennessee State under head coach Alan LeForce from 1991-92, Lebo helped lead the Buccaneers to two consecutive Southern Conference crowns and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.

In 1993, Lebo was an assistant under Eddie Fogler at Vanderbilt and the Commodores went 28-6 and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 before Fogler, Lebo and staff moved across the SEC to South Carolina. During his five seasons in Columbia from 1994-98, Lebo helped lead the Gamecocks to an SEC title in 1997, two appearances in the NCAA Tournament and one in the NIT.

Lebo was a four-year starter at point guard at North Carolina from 1986-89. During his career, the Tar Heels compiled a 116-25 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight in 1987 and 1988 and the Sweet 16 in 1986 and 1989. He earned two first-team ACC All-Tournament honors and was a All-ACC second-team selection in 1988.

Lebo left UNC with single-season records for free throw shooting (.878 in 1987-88) and three-point shooting (.462 in 1982-83). He still ranks among the program’s top 20 in career scoring with 1,567 points and is sixth in career assists with 580.

A 1989 University of North Carolina graduate with a degree in Business Administration, Lebo was presented the school’s Patterson Award, given to UNC’s top student-athlete for academic achievement.

Lebo played for his father, Dave, at Carlisle High School in Carlisle, Pa. and led the team to a state title as a senior and a 108-9 record during his career. He earned All-America honors and was a four-time all-state selection.

Lebo was born Oct. 5, 1966, in Enola, Pa. He married the former Melissa Mills of Williamston, N.C., on Aug. 8, 1992. The couple has two daughters, Addison, 9, Mills, 6, and a son, Creighton, 2.