Jeff Hamilton enters his 13th season as the head men's basketball coach and sixth as the Athletic Director at Shawnee State University during the 2014-15 season. As the Athletic Director, the Bears have sent seven of their 13 varsity programs to compete at the NAIA Championships under Hamilton’s tenure.
As a member of the NAIA’s Champions of Character Initiative, 16 different individuals have been named the Mid-South Conference Champions of Character recipients in their respective sports. For Hamilton’s squad, the men’s basketball team has had an individual win this honor in each of the first four seasons that the Bears have been a member of the Mid-South Conference.
As an athletic department, Shawnee State is recognized as a Five-Star Institution for Champions of Character. During the 2011-12 year, the Bears Champions of Character score was the highest amongst all Mid-South schools and the sixth-highest amongst all schools in the NAIA.
During the 2013-14 season, it was Trevor Banks that was named the MSC Champions of Character recipient of basketball. That season was also highlighted by his selection as a second-team All-MSC selection. In total, Hamilton has coached 29 players to all-conference honors. The Bears are just two years removed from their most successful campaign since the 2006-07 season when they also won 16 games. Their 11 conference wins this past season tied for the most since the 2003-04 season under Hamilton.
Throughout his coaching career, Hamilton has consistently scheduled a tough non-conference slate to prepare his team for the conference schedule. During his tenure, the Bears have played the likes of Boston College, Florida State University, Texas Christian University, University of Detroit-Mercy and many other Division I opponents. Hamilton’s teams have continually risen to the challenge of playing top competition throughout the country. During the 2012-13 season, the Bears won three games against teams that were ranked in the top-25 at the time. Additionally, the Bears notched an overtime win over Georgetown College, who was receiving votes at the time before going on to win the NAIA National Championship later that season.
These victories last season just continued Shawnee State’s history of playing its best on the biggest stages as the Bears also beat then-No. 1 Pikeville during the 2011-12 season when Pikeville was the reigning NAIA Champion coming into that season. The upset win over Pikeville was just one instance of Hamilton's team playing its best in big games. In 2004-05, the Bears knocked off eventual National Champion Walsh twice during the regular season. In the 2008-09 season, Hamilton and the Bears went into then-No. 1 ranked Cedarville and took down the Yellow Jackets on their home floor. With a young squad during the 2010-11 season, his team made national headlines as it knocked off second-ranked Georgetown College, with then-sophomore Tyler Morgan garnering National Player of the Week honors.
Hamilton joined the SSU staff in the summer of 2001 as an assistant coach under Geno Ford. He took over the program the following year and guided the Bears to a 22-10 record and to the AMC Championship Game. Hamilton has been coaching basketball since his graduation in 1996 from the College of Wooster. He has made coaching stops at Illinois College and Ohio University where he was on Larry Hunter's staff for two seasons.
Hamilton has been instrumental in transitioning Shawnee State into the Mid-South Conference and into the Division I ranks at the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year. The upcoming season will be the Bears’ fifth season as a member of the Mid-South Conference competing at the NAIA Division I level. At various times along the way, he has also coached golf, soccer, tennis and served as director of intramurals.
The Worthington, Ohio native holds a bachelor's degree from the College of Wooster and a master's degree from Ohio University. As a point guard at Wooster, Hamilton helped guide the Scots to three national tournament appearances and a 91-21 record. He currently resides in Portsmouth with his wife, Rhonda. They have two children, Luke and Margaret.