CARBONDALE -- It's official. Southern Illinois University welcomed home one of its all-time greats on Wednesday, naming Bryan Mullins as the school's 14th men's basketball head coach.
To celebrate a new era of Saluki Basketball, the athletic department invites fans to a Pep Rally and Town Hall Meeting with Mullins at 5 p.m. on Thursday at SIU Arena. The event will be hosted by Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Reis and feature comments from Coach Mullins, Director of Athletics Jerry Kill, as well as special video appearances by former Saluki greats.
Mullins will take questions from fans during the program, then stay afterward to sign autographs and visit with fans in the arena lobby. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and concession stands will be open.
Mullins, 32, is a member of the Saluki Hall of Fame, in recognition of a four-year career (2006-09) in which he set the school record for assists and steals and was the point guard for two NCAA Tournament teams (2006, 2007) and an NIT squad (2008). Southern Illinois advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2007, won a school-record 29 games and finished the season at a school-best No. 11 national ranking.
"I visited with Bryan fairly early in the search process and he has everything you want in a coach," said SIU Director of Athletics Jerry Kill. "His interview blew me away. When I walked out of there, it was easy to go to the next round of people, because he set the standard of what they had to be, and I couldn't find anyone better, and I went all over the country."
After graduating from SIU in 2009, Mullins embarked upon a four-year professional career in France. He retired in 2013 and joined Porter Moser's staff at Loyola as the director of operations. Mullins ascended to assistant coach in 2015 and associate head coach in 2018, helping the Ramblers during their historic 2018 season in which the team won a school-record 32 games, advanced to the Final Four and finished the season with a No. 7 national ranking. Loyola won back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference championships in 2018 and 2019, and Mullins was a key factor in the program's success, recruiting All-Conference players such as Cameron Krutwig and 2019 MVC Player of the Year Marques Townes.
"Bryan's won at everything he's ever done," said Kill. "There's no doubt in my mind he's the right fit. Our teams will play hard and be tough."
Mullins was a two-time MVC Defensive Player of the Year at Southern Illinois and earned MVC All-Defensive Team recognition in each of his four seasons with the Salukis. As a freshman, the 6-foot-2 guard led the MVC and ranked seventh in the nation in steals (2.85 spg) and was named to the MVC's All-Newcomer and All-Defensive teams.
"Bryan was one of the greatest players in Saluki history and created so many great memories for Saluki fans during his playing career," said two-time MVC Coach of the Year Chris Lowery, who coached Mullins all four seasons at SIU. "Now, I'm looking forward to him making those memories from the sideline."
Off the court, Mullins graduated from Southern with a degree in finance and a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average. He was a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete Team pick and won the 2009 MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. A two-time Academic All-American, Mullins won the MVC's Dr. Charlotte West Scholar-Athlete award and President's Council Academic award.
Mullins signed a five-year contract with the school at $475,000 per year.