Panthers extend Cherry’s contract
High Point University athletic director Craig Keilitz believes in continuity only under certain circumstances for the right reasons.
“You want to have continuity but it has to be the right continuity,” Keilitz said.
Keilitz believes the Panthers’ men’s basketball program has developed enough of that under coach Scott Cherry that he awarded Cherry a new four-year contract that runs through the 2016-17 season. The extension comes after Cherry, who has an overall record of 57-65, posted his first winning season of 17-13 and guided the Panthers to first place in the Big South Conference’s North division at 12-4 (the Panthers first first-place finish in the conference) in the final year of his original four-year contract.
“I like to keep the explanation simple,” Keilitz said. “I believe in what they are doing in every aspect of the program from the academic success, to the way they take care of the students and then the success of last season. ... I certainly feel that he is the right guy for the job.”
Cherry said he and Keilitz talked some about a new contract during the season, which ended with the Panthers losing two of their last three games, including its first game in the Big South tournament after leading scorer John Brown was sidelined by a broken bone in his foot. “We didn’t want it to interfere with the season so we put it on the backburner,” Cherry said. “The day after we lost in the tournament, we sat down and got it settled.
“I’m just grateful for (school president) Dr. (Nido) Qubein and Mr. Keilitz having the faith in us,” Cherry said. “I’m humbled just to be able to coach a Division I basketball team. We’ve been trying to build the program the right way. We’re just a year behind schedule because we didn’t have John available last year (because of academic ineligibility).”
Retention of Cherry comes as the Panthers return all five starters and over 80 percent of their scoring and rebounding next season. Those returning are led by all-conference selections Brown and Allan Chaney.
“It’s huge to get another four years because our recruits will know that we will be here the entire time,” Cherry said. “We got a lot of the right pieces in place. We accomplished a lot of good things this season and we have to some more pieces in recruiting.
“We’ll have people expecting huge things from us next season but that’s better than being expected to finish at the bottom.”