By Jeff Harris
Following the most successful season in recent years, BYU basketball players and fans have put the fateful 1-25 season of 1996-97 well behind them. The man who took over as interim head coach for the last 19 games of that season is now able to do the same.
Tony Ingle, former BYU basketball assistant coach and interim head coach after Roger Reid was fired, has recently accepted the head-coaching job for the basketball team at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity”, Ingle said. A native of Georgia, Ingle is happy to be returning home.
“I love the location, it’s back in my stomping grounds,” Ingle said.
Kennesaw State, located 25 miles north of Atlanta, is an NCAA Division II school and a member of the Peach Belt Athletic Conference. Last season the team finished 14-11 and failed to make the conference tournament.
The university received more than 250 applications for the position, according to a news release from the university athletic department.
Ingle feels his experience and enthusiasm will be among his best assets as he takes on the new responsibility — particularly the successes he had while an assistant coach at BYU.
“How many coaches in the state of Georgia have been to five NCAA tournaments?” Ingle said.
Besides coaching at BYU, Ingle has coached at the University of Alabama in Huntsville,Ala., Gordon College in Barnseville, Ga., and two different high schools in the state of Georgia. He has been out of coaching since the end of the 1996-97 season, but not out of basketball.
Since BYU, he has worked as a college scout for the Utah Jazz and as a commentator for television broadcasts of Mountain West Conference games. “I’ve looked at the game from all aspects.”
Now that he’s at the helm of a team again, Ingle plans “to take all the wealth of experience and make it practical.”
Not all of Ingle’s experiences at BYU were successes. After the basketball team started off 1-6 in the 1996-97 season, head coach Roger Reid was fired and Ingle became the interim head coach, finishing off the season 0-19.
Ingle told a reporter for the Deseret News that taking over as the head coach was “professional suicide”.
Ingle said he is not bitter about that experience. “The greatest rewards in life come to those people who have the unique ability to forget the hurts of the past, but remember the lessons for the future,” he said.
Eric Nielsen, who played for BYU during Ingle’s tenure, doesn’t think the record reflects Ingle’s ability as a coach.
“He’s real players’ coach,” Nielsen said. “He was key for us getting through that tough season, he kept our focus on the big picture.”
Nielsen is positive about Ingle’s chances for success with Kennesaw State. “I think he’ll do great with his own program. I wish him the best.”
Ingle’s family, which has been residing in Orem, is happy to see him coaching again.
Jeanne Ingle, Ingle’s wife, said, “We’re excited for him to get back into coaching, that’s where he belongs.”