Jeff Hamilton will begin his 14th year as the head men's basketball coach as well as his seventh season as the Athletic Director for the Shawnee State University Athletic Department in the 2015-16 campaign. 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, 17 different individuals have been named the Mid-South Conference's 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 five seasons that the Bears have been a member of the Mid-South Conference, as Austin Vance would become the last recipent of the award for the men's basketball program in the 2014-15 academic year.
As an athletic department, Shawnee State is recognized as a Five-Star Institution for Champions of Character. During the 2011-12 season, the Bears' Champions of Character score was the highest amongst all Mid-South schools and the sixth-highest amongst all schools in the NAIA.
In total, Hamilton has coached 29 players to all-conference honors. The Bears are just three years removed from their most successful campaign since the 2006-07 season when they also won 16 games. Their 11 conference wins during the 2012-13 season also 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 2014-15 season, the Bears took down the then-No. 1-ranked team in the NAIA, Campbellsville University in a thrilling 63-61 victory for the Bears at Frank & Janis Waller Gymnasium on Jan. 24 of the calendar year.
Last year's victory over Campbellsville continues Shawnee State’s history of playing its best on the biggest stages as the Bears obtained victories over No. 10-ranked Lindsey Wilson and West Virginia Institute of Technology - who was receiving votes in the NAIA Poll - in 2013-14 and took three games against teams that were ranked in the top-25 at the time during the 2012-13 season. 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. In the 2011-12 season, the Bears upset then-No. 1 Pikeville when Pikeville was the reigning NAIA Champion coming into that season.
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 also accumulated a good amount of success with his team's guard play in the 2014-15 season, as current SSU hooper Devon Carter hit on over 90% of his free throw attempts in 2015. Carter and fellow teammate Sean Elliott also finished in the top 25 in program history for three-point shooting percentage in a season, as Carter hit on 39.7 percent of his attempts while Elliott accumulated a 43 percent accuracy rate from downtown en route to Second-Team All-MSC 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’ sixth 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.