PINE BLUFF, Ark. –Nate Kilbert, the reigning Southwestern Athletic Conference coach-of-the-year who led Mississippi Valley State University to the 2011-12 league championship and to a berth in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, has been chosen as the new head coach at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
“Wow. This is a great moment for me and for my family,” said Kilbert. “I’m excited about this opportunity. I’m really looking forward to meeting with the young ladies and getting ready for next year. With hard work, I know that we can do great things with this program.”
The hiring of Kilbert was announced at a press conference at 2 p.m. Friday at the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Complex on the UAPB campus. In making the announcement, UAPB athletics director Lonza Hardy Jr. said he was elated to bring in a coach with the credentials that Kilbert has.
“Coach Kilbert is a highly motivated and skilled individual who is committed to the overall well-being of his student-athletes, both on and off the court,” said Hardy, who also hired Kilbert at Mississippi Valley State when he became that university’s athletics director in 2001.
“He has a work ethic that should serve as a model for all coaches, he is innovative in his approach to coaching and he is well-connected in recruiting circles, both nationally and internationally. I’m thrilled that he is about to bring those credentials to UAPB.”
Kilbert, a 49-year-old native of Sallis, Miss., has more than 25 years of coaching experience, including an 11-year stint as Mississippi Valley State’s head coach, his first stint as a head coach. He also excelled as the assistant women’s coach at Alcorn State University from 1991 to 2001 and as an assistant coach at MVSU from 1989-91.
While at Alcorn State, and working alongside legendary coach Shirley A. Walker, the Lady Braves captured seven SWAC regular-season championships, including five straight between 1991 and 1995. At MVSU, the Devilettes were runners-up in the 2005 SWAC tournament and last season’s team captured the 2011-12 SWAC regular-season championship, earning a berth to the WNIT, where they lost a close contest at Tulane University.
Kilbert’s teams at MVSU also performed well in the classroom, earning SWAC accolades for amassing the highest combined grade point average of any women’s basketball team in the conference in 2010-11.
Because the contract of former head coach Cary Shelton doesn’t expire until the end of June, Kilbert’s tenure at UAPB won’t officially start until July 1. Nonetheless, Kilbert said he will immediately begin getting things in order for the upcoming season.
“The sooner you can get started, the better it would be for the program,” said Kilbert. “But I understand the situation, so I’m really starting as of today. I just won’t be getting paid for it.”
Shelton, who served as UAPB’s head coach the past three seasons, resigned from the position on March 18, effective at the end of his contract on June 30.