Former Belmont Abbey captain named Tusculum head coach

Eddie Pennington has experience with programs in their initial season — first as a college player and now as a head coach.

Tusculum announced Wednesday that it hired Pennington to be its program’s inaugural head coach when the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team begins play in 2020.

Pennington was a member of Belmont Abbey’s inaugural team in 2013. In his three seasons with the Crusaders, Pennington played in 26 matches and was named the team captain as a junior and senior.

“I am extremely humbled, honored and grateful for this opportunity to build the men’s volleyball program at Tusculum University,” Pennington said in a statement. “I would like to thank [Vice President of Athletics] Doug Jones and everyone that was a part of the search committee for entrusting me to start the program. I can’t wait to get our first class on campus, and continue to build upon the many great traditions here within Tusculum athletics.”

Along with his college playing experience, Pennington has spent the last two seasons as a coach with the Butler women’s volleyball team. The Bulldogs with Pennington on the coaching staff qualified for the 2017 Big East Tournament and produced two AVCA All-Region selections.

Pennington before arriving to Butler coached the Illinois-Springfield women’s volleyball team and was a head coach for a local club team.

“We feel like we have found the right person to start our men’s volleyball program. Eddie’s energy and drive really stood out during the interview process,” Jones said in a statement. “He has gained a lot of experience in a short amount of time and has been mentored by some very good coaches. Eddie will have our full support and we are excited about the future of our men’s volleyball program.”

Tusculum, a NCAA Division II school located in Greenville, Tennessee, announced earlier this fall that it would add a men’s volleyball program.

The Pioneers will be the third NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team located in East Tennessee — joining King and Lincoln Memorial. It also is the fourth school from the South Atlantic Conference to sponsor a men’s volleyball program.