After 22 years as Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Thomas J. Ryan ’87 will step down after the 2019 season to devote his full attention to the role of Eckerd College Athletic Director.
Ryan continued to coach during his 17 months serving as interim and after he was appointed permanent Athletic Director on October 5.
Under Ryan’s leadership, Triton Men’s Basketball won five Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Championships and made 11 NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, which included one South Region Championship and two Sweet Sixteen finishes. He is Eckerd College’s all-time-wins leader in Men’s Basketball as well as a three-time SSC Coach of the Year (1998, 2001, 2016) and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Coach of the Year (2001).
“I am grateful for the many years in which I have been blessed with the opportunity to lead the Eckerd Men’s Basketball program,” Ryan said. “Our success on the court has been impressive, but I am even more proud of the academic and professional successes that our student-athletes have experienced during and beyond their time at Eckerd. I am confident that, with the help of the search committee, we will select the right person to continue to lead Triton Men’s Basketball to future successes,” Ryan said.
The search will commence immediately for a replacement coach for the 2019–2020 season.
Ryan was only the second permanently appointed coach in Eckerd Men’s Basketball history, having taken over the role from his beloved coach and mentor, James Harley, in 1996. A forever Triton, Ryan graduated from Eckerd with a bachelor’s degree in Management and took a job the following fall as the College’s Intramural Director and Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach. He completed his master’s degree in Education at Nova Southeastern University in 1994.
With his full attention on the administration of Eckerd College Athletics, Ryan will lead the College through plans for facilities improvements, continue to grow fundraising and scholarship support for student-athletes, implement additional programming specific to responsible social media behaviors, and expand the ways in which athletics can complement the learning and campus life experiences of all students, faculty and staff at Eckerd College.
The most successful program in the history of Eckerd Athletics, Men’s Basketball has won more than 860 games since its inaugural season in 1963–64. Under Coach Harley, Eckerd made its first of 15 NCAA Tournament appearances in 1973. The Tritons made back-to-back trips in 1994 and 1995 and reached the Elite Eight in 2003. The program also made two additional Sweet 16 appearances (2007, 2018).
Eckerd College is a proud member of NCAA Division II. With 14 teams and more than 200 athletes, the Eckerd Tritons have had remarkable success in the classroom as well as in their sports. Tritons have an NCAA DII Academic Success Rate (ASR) of 95 percent—meaning 95 percent of our athletes graduate within six years of enrollment—which ties Eckerd for eighth in the nation.
Eckerd is a founding member of the Sunshine State Conference, formed in 1974. The SSC has claimed 106 NCAA Division II National Championships since its inception while maintaining one of the highest aggregate ASR ratings in the country.
In 2017–18, Eckerd sent five programs to national tournaments (Women’s Volleyball, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Coed Sailing and Women’s Sailing), and Women’s Soccer qualified for postseason play at the conference level. These six postseason appearances are the most in a single season in the history of Eckerd Athletics, which bodes well for Ryan’s leadership as the permanent Athletic Director.