WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Former UNCW men’s basketball sharpshooter Mark Byington has ascended to the pinnacle of the NCAA Division I coaching ranks after being named to direct Georgia Southern’s program.

Byington, a shooting guard for the Seahawks from 1995-98, was named head coach of the Eagles during a Monday press conference conducted by Director of Athletics Tom Kleinlein in Statesboro, Ga. A longtime member of the Southern Conference, GSU will move to the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.

Byington joins Billy Donlon at Wright State as former Seahawks now heading up NCAA Division I programs. Coincidentally, Byington and Donlon played together for three seasons from 1996-98.

Byington appeared in 114 games during his four-year career at UNCW and started 31 games in his senior season for the Seahawks. He earned Second-Team All-CAA honors and made the All-Defensive Team in his senior year. He averaged 11.6 points and led the Seahawks to their first postseason appearance, a berth in the 1998 Postseason NIT.

The Salem, Va., native finished his career with 1,088 points, 268 rebounds and 234 assists and ranks third all-time in 3-point field goals made (246), 3-point field goals attempted (648) and 3-point field goal percentage (.380).

Byington takes over the GSU program after serving as an assistant for James Johnson at Virginia Tech last season, mentoring ACC Player-of-the-Year Erick Green, who averaged 25.0 ppg.

Before joining Johnson’s staff in Blacksburg, Byington spent nine seasons at the College of Charleston, including six years as the top aide to Bobby Cremins before being appointed interim head coach Jan. 27, 2012.

The GSU appointment is the latest in Byington’s coaching journey. He spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons as a graduate student manager at Virginia before becoming an assistant coach at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. Byington then served as Director of Basketball Operations at Virginia during the 2004-05 season for Coach Pete Gillen.

What They’re Saying About Mark Byington:

“Mark was an outstanding assistant for me, and I am really happy for him. He’s a tireless worker and a great X-and-O man, and he will represent Georgia Southern in a great manner.”
           Bobby Cremins - former coach at College of Charleston and Georgia Tech

 “I’ve known Mark since he was an 18-year-old freshman, and he was always a player with a high basketball IQ and a thirst for knowledge. He is a terrific young coach who will aggressively approach the recruiting trail and a very bright X-and-O guy who will have a lot of success at Georgia Southern.”
          
Brad Brownell - Clemson head coach

“Coach B helped me have a great senior year. He really helped me improve my game tremendously and was always there for me even outside of basketball. He helped me become a leader on and off the floor. His office was always open to talk, and I feel he will be a great head coach.”
          
Erick Green – senior guard at Virginia Tech, ACC Player of the Year and nation’s leading scorer

 “Mark had an incredible college playing career and a significant impact in helping us build the program at UNCW. He was an absolute student of the game and became a coach on the floor. He was the consummate teammate and had an incredible work ethic at that age that becomes a carryover for life. You could tell he was going to have an impact on people’s lives. He has earned the right for this opportunity, and he’s learned at each stop from a lot of legendary people. He’s a special young man and will be an incredible representative for Georgia Southern University.”
           
Jerry Wainwright - Marquette assistant coach

 “Mark Byington has been well prepared to be a head coach. What I’ve found to be his strength is the ability to evaluate at a high level. He possesses an eye for recruiting and has been efficient in not only identifying the players, but the decision makers. Georgia Southern picked a rising star to reset the foundation for its program and take them to the next level in recruiting and the win column!”
            
Dave Telep - ESPN Sr. College Basketball Recruiting Analyst