WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- UNC Wilmington has found its new men's basketball coach.
University of Louisville Associate Head Coach Kevin Keatts is the next coach for the Seahawks. He replaces Buzz Peterson, who was fired March 11 after four seasons.
"I am very excited about taking over a program that's had a lot of past success," Keatts said during a teleconference with reporters this afternoon from Indianapolis, where Louisville is getting ready to play in the Sweet 16 tomorrow night. "I'm anxious to get started. I like everything about the job. Looking forward to getting the program back on the right track. When this opportunity came along for me, I thought it was a no-brainer."
The Executive Committee of the UNCW Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting via conference call at 10 a.m. Afterward, the hiring of Keatts was announced.
"We were intent on bring the best coach to UNCW," UNCW Athletics Director Jimmy Bass said. "We want to win championships. Our goal is to find the best person we can find. Kevin Keatts met all of our criteria. We had a diverse group of candidates that we met with on campus. It was a thorough process."
Keatts, 41, has served as an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville since April 2011. That includes being part of last year's national championship team and a third straight run to the Sweet 16 this season.
Terms of Keatts's deal with UNCW have not yet been released, because the chair of the Board of Trustees is out of town and will not be able to sign it until at least Sunday, Bass said. The university expects to release the details of the official contract Monday. Everyone else who needs to sign, including Keatts, has, Bass said. Louisville reportedly pays Keatts about $280,000 a year.
Before going to Louisville, Keatts coached at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, where he won two national prep school championships. He also coached collegiately at Southwest Michigan College and Marshall University.
The other front runner for the job was reportedly Chris Caputo, who is an assistant at the University of Miami. Former UNCW Seahawk Billy Donlon, currently the head coach at Wright State, was also reportedly in the hunt. Donlon played under Jerry Wainwright and was an assistant coach under Brad Brownell and succeeded Brownell as top man at Wright State.