By Marty Gordon
To say Mike Young is a Bobcat to the core is an understatement. He grew up in Radford, playing basketball and later attended Emory and Henry where he served as team captain. His coaching tree has included a stop at Radford University, where he spent one year under Oliver Purnell. But his major feat was landing an assistant job at Wofford College. From there, it has been history as he turned it into a lifetime of accolades.
In 2015, he was named to the Radford High School Sports Hall of Fame. The same year, he was enshrined in the Emory and Henry College HOF.
This past week, the 55-year-old was named the Southern Conference’s men’s basketball coach of the year. This is the fifth time he has received the honor.
He came to the school in 1989 as an assistant coach and was named head coach in 2002. Young also has assistant stints at Emory and Henry, and Radford University.
Young help transition Wofford from the Division II to I ranks, but his first few years were that of transition as the school’s first five years barely made it over the .500 mark.
Things changed quickly after that. The 2008-2009 season ushered in a new beginning as Wofford recorded its first winning season as a D-I school and the first winning SoCo record in school history.
As a head coach, Young has compiled a 292-243 overall mark including four SoCo tournament and two regular season championships.
According to figures compiled by USA TODAY Sports, Young earned a salary of $161,043 in 2015, the lowest total among the 64 NCAA Tournament coaches in that year.
Yes, he has been the topic of coaching openings around the country including Radford University before Mike Jones was hired for the job. But he still remains at Wofford, a private school in Spartanburg, South Carolina with an enrollment just over 1,500.
In an interview with this paper last year, he admitted having a love affair with the small, quaint school.
“I just love it there,” he said, but he did leave the door open if the right situation came along. But nothing has grabbed his attention, not even a larger salary.
This is the 30th year on the Wofford bench and the 17th as head coach. During that time, Wofford has played in the NCAA tournament four times and seems destined again this season as they are nationally ranked for the first time in program history.
In a recent interview, Wofford Associate head coach Jay McAuley called his boss the “coach of the century.”
“He’s very humble,” McAuley said. “It’s always about the players with him, but if you ask anyone else on this staff or even any of the players, he’s the reason this program goes.”
Wofford was 26-4 entering this week’s Southern Conference tournament.