By Marty Gordon
Radford University has announced that Darris Nichols will resume his full duties as head men’s basketball coach on Monday, March 6. His brother and assistant coach, Shane Nichols, has been serving as the acting coach following Darris’s arrest for DUI two weeks ago.
Shane will direct the Highlanders during their run through the Big South Championships, which will be held at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte this weekend, March 3-5.
The third-seeded Highlanders begin postseason play on Friday, March 3, with an 8 p.m. tip against the sixth-seeded Winthrop Eagles. A potential semifinal contest would take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 4, followed by the Big South championship game at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 5.
Darris’s Feb. 19 incident was the result of Radford police finding him sitting in his car. He refused a sobriety test, but later his blood alcohol level was two-times the legal limit.
Within three days, Darris pled guilty and moved the charge along quickly. His license was suspended for 12 months, and he paid a $2,500 fine. He will also have to use an ignition interlock device on his car and was further sentenced to 18 days in jail with all but two of them suspended.
Darris issued an apology following the legal decision.
“There is no excuse for driving under the influence, and I accept full responsibility for my actions,” he wrote Friday morning in an email to The Roanoke Times. “I am thankful to those who took the steps to ensure my safety and appreciate the professionalism exhibited by our law enforcement.
“I apologize to the entire Radford community,” Darris said, “a community that has supported me and my family for decades. I am deeply troubled by the pain my actions have caused my family, Radford University, its administrators, students, and alumni; I pray that the community and those affiliated with Radford University will accept my apology.
“There is no justification for my actions,” Darris said, “but I pledge that my actions that evening will not define me going forward.”
The Radford native was hired two years ago after serving as an assistant at the University of Florida. During a press conference at his hiring, RU Athletic Director Robert Lineburg praised him back home. LIneburg is also a Radford High School graduate.
Darris played basketball at West Virginia University and climbed the ranks as an assistant coach all the way to the University of Florida position in the SEC.
Darris helped lead Radford High School to four appearances in the state Group A playoffs, averaging in double-figures every season. He coached seven seasons at Florida, helping lead the Gators to a 108-65 record that included four straight 20-win seasons and three consecutive NCAA Tournament bids.
Darris garnered a spot in ESPN.com’s 40 Under 40 list in the summer of 2020, rated #17 on the national list that included both head coaches and assistant coaches. He was also rated the #2 assistant coach in the SEC in a Stadium poll of coaches around the league.
A four-year letter-winner at West Virginia under Bob Huggins and John Beilein, Nichols helped the Mountaineers to a 26-11 record and a trip to the 2008 NCAA Sweet 16 his senior season.
At WVU, Darris shined as a player in the Big East. He scored 993 career points and handed out 399 assists while shooting at a .375 clip from 3-point range. He averaged 10.7 points per game and 3.2 assists per game as a senior on the way to WVU’s Sweet 16 run. He was also a member of the 2007 NIT Championship team, and the 2006 Sweet 16 and 2005 Elite Eight teams.
He finished his collegiate career among the top five players in WVU history with the most wins. After graduation, Darris played professionally overseas in the Hungarian League.
His coaching stops have included assistant positions at Louisiana Tech, Northern Kentucky, and Wofford, where he coached for current Virginia Tech’s head coachMike Young.