NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State University President Dr. Glenda Glover and Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips announced on Monday the hiring of Brian “Penny” Collins as the Head Coach of the TSU men’s basketball program. Collins will be introduced at an 11 a.m. press conference at Hankal Hall’s Tigers Den on campus this morning. The event is open to the public and will stream live on the TSU Athletics Facebook page.
"We welcome Coach Brian Collins to take the helm, and take us to the next level," said Glover. "Coach Collins returns to make his mark on the program, bringing experience and hometown knowledge, all of which will help with recruiting local talent and getting TSU to post season play. This is great day for TSU Athletics and the TSU family, and our fans deserve it."
“I am extremely pleased to have one of our own as our new head men’s basketball coach,” Phillips said. “Coach Collins will bring fresh enthusiasm to our program as well as an energy to the Gentry Center that is much needed. He is a thinker, leader, motivator and competitor – all attributes that lend well to success in this business. He is here to build champions and win championships.”
A proven winner as a coach and player, Collins is the 18th head coach in program history. The Nashville native returns to his hometown for his first NCAA Division I head coaching position at the age of 34.
“It means the world to me to be the Head Coach at TSU,” Collins said. “Once I decided to get into the business, my eyes were always set on this job. To have the opportunity to not only unite an institution, but also a city where I grew up in, is priceless. This is truly a dream come true that I will not take for granted.”
A former member of TSU’s coaching staff, Collins spent the 2017-18 season as an assistant coach at Illinois State under Dan Muller. In his lone season in Normal, Ill., Collins helped propel the Redbirds to an 18-15 record and a berth in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship Game. Collins’ teams have played in their conference’s championship game in each of the past five seasons.
He served as an assistant coach at East Tennessee State during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons in a span when the Buccaneers went 51-20. During his time in Johnson City, Tenn., Collins got his first taste of the NCAA Tournament from a coaching perspective when the Bucs won the Southern Conference Tournament Championship in 2017 – earning a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
A former standout during his playing career at Belmont, Collins got his start in the coaching industry as a graduate assistant at TSU under then-head coach Cy Alexander during the 2007-08 season. He became TSU’s Director of Basketball Operations in 2008-09.
Collins moved on to work as the assistant coach at Cumberland University (NAIA) in Lebanon, Tenn. for three seasons.
In his first head coaching experience, Collins led Columbia State, a community college in Columbia, Tenn., from 2012-15. His tenure at Columbia State was highlighted by back-to-back NJCAA National Tournament appearances, including runs to the Elite Eight in 2014 and the Sweet 16 in 2015. Collins was named 2014 Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Coach of the Year and 2015 NJCAA District 7 Coach of the Year after winning the Region 7 Championship.
Collins, who played his high school basketball at nearby Whites Creek, starred at Belmont for Rick Byrd. Then a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Collins served as a co-captain for the Bruins in their first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament appearance during his senior year in 2006. Collins, who was a four-year starter, scored 1,199 career points and graduated as Belmont’s all-time leader for assists and steals in the Division I era.
He played professionally for the Kouvot Bears in Finland and the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League.
Collins graduated from Belmont in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He went on to earn his master’s degree in sports administration from TSU in 2009.
Collins is married to Lakeya Collins and has one son, History.