August 27, 2012
A former Knox College men's basketball player and assistant coach is returning to his alma mater to lead the men's basketball program.
Knox athletic director Chad Eisele announced that Kevin Walden has been named the Prairie Fire's new head men's basketball coach. He's just the fourth such coach at Knox since 1960 -- preceded by Harley Knosher, Tim Heimann, and Rob Purlee.
Walden has served as the head men's basketball coach at Warren Wilson College, a liberal arts college in Asheville, North Carolina, since July of 2008. He's also been the school's sports information director the past four years and assistant athletic director for external relations since July of 2009.
Walden inherited a men's basketball program that had seven players and eight wins combined in the previous five years, and turned it around. He guided Warren Wilson to a 16-9 record last season, the program's best record and first winning campaign in nearly 30 years. The Owls finished the 2011-2012 regular season ranked #9 in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II national poll.
During his coaching tenure at Warren Wilson, Walden led the basketball program to its best four-year winning percentage in over three decades. He was also a two-time winner of the Warren Wilson College Coach of the Year Award (2008-2009 and 2011-2012) and improved the team's overall grade point average from a 2.5 to a 3.04.
"I am thrilled for the opportunity to lead the Knox men's basketball program," Walden said. "I am extremely grateful to President Teresa Amott, Chad Eisele and the search committee for trusting in me to be the next coach of the Prairie Fire. My wife and I had great student-athlete experiences at Knox, and we feel extremely fortunate to represent an institution that has meant so much to us. We are excited about the opportunity and challenge that we have ahead of us."
Walden graduated from Knox in 2001 with a degree in elementary education. He was a four-year varsity men's basketball letter winner and a two-year starter. Walden started at forward for the 1999-2000 Knox team that finished second in the Midwest Conference with a 10-6 league record and a 15-8 overall mark.
Walden was named team captain for the 2000-2001 season, when he was selected as the squad's most valuable player, most valuable offensive player, most valuable senior, and also received the Harley Knosher Award.
Following his playing career, Walden was an assistant men's basketball coach under Heimann from 2001 to 2006 and the Knox sports information director between 2002 and 2006. He moved on to become the associate head men's basketball coach at St. Ambrose University from August of 2006 to June of 2008 while earning a master's degree in organizational leadership.
"We are very excited to have Kevin coming back to Knox," Eisele said. "He has all of the qualities we were looking for in our search: successful head coaching experience, a strong understanding of a national liberal arts education, and the expectation of winning. I know Kevin will do great things for Knox College and our men's basketball program."
Walden said he plans to begin at Knox on September 4.