Appalachian State has hired Dustin Kerns as its next men’s basketball coach, the Journal has learned.
The school will announce the decision on Thursday afternoon following the approval of his contract by the App State board of trustees. The board of trustees were in Boone on Thursday and Friday to hold previously scheduled meetings on campus. The hire was first reported by App State Mania, a site in the 247Sports' network.
Kerns has spent the last two seasons as the head coach of Presbyterian College, where he went 31-37. The Blue Hose finished 20-16 this season, losing to Marshall on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the College Invitational Tournament.
He replaces Jim Fox, who was fired after five seasons, on March 15. Kerns will be the 22nd head coach in App State history.
Though his Presbyterian record is below .500, Kerns’s tenure reflects a quick turnaround for a program that joined the Division-I ranks in 2007. Presbyterian’s 20 victories in 2018-19 represent the best D-I win total in the school’s history. He won 11 games in his debut season (2017-18). In the previous season, Presbyterian had only five wins.
Before his first head coaching job, Kerns spent the bulk of his career as an assistant at Wofford under Mike Young. Kerns worked with the Terriers twice -- first from 2004 to 2007, then from 2013 to 2017. Wofford, an old Southern Conference rival of App State, went on to two NCAA Tournament appearances (2014 and 2015) during Kerns’s second Wofford stint.
Kerns also possesses connections to the most successful time period for men’s basketball at App State. After graduating from Clemson in 2002, Kerns became the director of basketball operations at Tennessee Tech. He did that for one season, then joined Buzz Peterson’s staff at Tennessee as a graduate assistant in 2003.
Peterson coached at Appalachian from 1996 to 2000, and again for the 2009-10 season. With Peterson, App State went to only its second NCAA Tournament appearance ever in 2000.
From 2007 to 2013, Kerns worked at Santa Clara with former Broncos head coach Kerry Keating. Keating was an assistant at App State for Peterson’s final two seasons in Boone. Santa Clara won at least 24 games in two of Kerns’s final three seasons with Keating.
Presbyterian averaged 78.3 points per game and allowed 72.5 this season. The Blue Hose had the second-best shooting percentage from 3-point range in the Big South at 38.1 percent. Of Presbyterian’s 2,150 field goal attempts, 48.1 percent came from behind the arc.
They were the only team in the conference to shoot more than 1,000 3-pointers. Presbyterian also led the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.58).