COLUMBUS, Miss. - Athletic Director Jason Trufant and the Owls Athletic Department has named Brian Merkel as the first head coach of the Owls men’s basketball program.
Before joining the Owls staff, Merkel recently completed his fifth season as the assistant men’s basketball coach at fellow NCAA Division III institution Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. In addition to his basketball responsibilities, Merkel completed his first season as the head coach of both the men’s and women’s cross country programs and his fourth year assisting the men’s golf program.
During his tenure with the basketball program, Hendrix achieved great levels of success. The Warriors advanced to the finals of the Southern Athletic Association Tournament twice. In 2017-18, Hendrix advanced to the finals eventually falling to Barry College. In 2014-15 tournament, the Warrior’s run was highlighted by wins versus the #3, #2, and #1 seeds propelling them into their first NCAA Tournament since 1996. At Hendrix, Merkel assisted with all facets of the basketball program including recruiting, opponent scouting, on-court practice and individual skill development. While there, he recruited and coached several all-conference selections including the 2016-17 SAA Player of the Year Hank Aldous.
Prior to his coaching career, Merkel was a three-year starting point guard for Millsaps College in Jackson. He was a prominent fixture in the backcourt, leading his team in assists his last three seasons, while also nearing the top in minutes played. As a major, he served as team captain his last two seasons and was named to the NABC Honors Court in 2011 and 2012.
When asked about joining The W, Coach Merkel said, “I am incredibly honored and humbled to be named head men’s basketball coach at Mississippi University for Women. The minute I walked onto campus, I knew MUW was a special place, with special people. I would like to thank the entire MUW administration, director of athletics Jason Trufant and the rest of the search committee on giving me this wonderful opportunity. I look forward to working with them each and every day to create a team that the university and community of Columbus can be proud of."
A native of Baton Rouge, La., Merkel graduated from Millsaps College in 2012 with a degree in business administration and minors in economics and communications. He received his master’s in business administration in the summer of 2013 from Southeastern Louisiana University.
"Being named the first head men’s basketball coach in university history is a position I will not take lightly. It is truly an honor to represent The W moving forward with our men’s basketball program. We will hold our program to the highest of standards on the basketball floor, in the classroom, and in the community. We will attract high quality student athletes to campus because of The W’s great academic track record along with our very competitive facilities. I can’t wait to get started and I look forward to meeting the great people of Columbus. Go Owls!”
Merkel will begin his tenure as the Owls men’s head coach Monday, April 16.