University of Southern Indiana Athletics announced the retirement of Rodney Watson, Men's Basketball head coach, in a video press conference Monday. The University will begin a national search to fill the position.
"Rodney Watson has been an exemplary leader for our men's basketball program," said Jon Mark Hall, USI director of Athletics. "Watson came to USI at a very pivotal time in our program's history and he is now retiring with the Screaming Eagles in a very good place.
"I was hopeful that Rodney would keep coaching for a while, but I truly respect his decision to move onto the next phase of his life," continued Hall. "I will never be able to express to him my true appreciation for how he has led our men's basketball student athletes. The young men he has taught have been guided by a person with great integrity, humility and grace."
"Coach Watson is to be applauded for his outstanding work both on and off the court," said Ronald S. Rochon, USI president. "He has been a great asset to USI and has become a fixture in the community, in addition to forging life-long bonds with the student athletes he has mentored. We wish Rodney well in retirement, he will be missed."
Watson became the ninth head coach for USI Men's Basketball history in 2009-10, beginning with 23-straight victories. The Screaming Eagles have soared during his 11 seasons and became program's all-time winningest coach after the victory over Kentucky Wesleyan College in the home opener last fall. He was 251-82 (.754) during his tenure, including a 142-60 (.703) Great Lakes Valley Conference record.
"By way of videoconference, I just finished meeting with our team to announce my retirement from coaching college basketball." said Watson, who started 2019-20 ranked among the top 10 in winning percentage for active coaches and among the top 15 all-time in winning percentage. "With an outstanding group returning, Screaming Eagle Arena and the completion of phase II the timing is perfect for a new voice, new style and new energy.
"You will find me in Section 111 Row 12 on the aisle," continued Watson. "I will be as available or as invisible as our next coach needs me to be. Thank you all for 11 wonderful seasons."
During his tenure, Watson also led the Eagles to the 2019 NCAA II Elite Eight Semifinals; the 2019 NCAA II Midwest Regional Championship; seven NCAA Division II Tournament appearances (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2019, 2020); and two GLVC championships (2012 and 2014). The program also has produced seven All-Americans and 15 All-GLVC honorees during his time at USI.
Watson and the Eagles finished the 2019-20 campaign, 22-8 overall and 13-7 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. USI reached the semifinals of the GLVC Tournament and was slated to appear in the NCAA II Midwest Regional before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.