(by Sandy King) | Press Conference Video
14th Men's Basketball Head Coach (hired April 9, 2012)
Years at EIU: 6
th year (entering 2017-18 season)
Pittsburg State, 1994
67-87 (37-43 in OVC)
173-119 (73-91 at NCAA Division I)
When he was about 16 years old Jay Spoonhour remembers sitting at the end of the bench at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) where his dad Charlie was the head coach and watching the Bears play Eastern Illinois and All-American Jay Taylor.
Fast forward some 20-plus years and Jay Spoonhour has almost come full circle as he was named the head coach of the Eastern Illinois University men’s basketball program in April of 2012. Spoonhour is the 14th head coach in the program’s history and only the third head coach since the program joined the NCAA Division I ranks in 1981.
Spoonhour made an immediate impact on the Panthers basketball fortunes in his first season on the bench. Playing with just ten active players on the roster, Spoonhour’s team became a cohesive unit midway through the Ohio Valley Conference season. After opening conference play with a 0-6 mark, EIU closed the season winning six of ten games including a 61-46 win over SIU Edwardsville on the final day of the season. That win locked up the No. 7 seed in the OVC Tournament and marked the Panthers first return to the league’s post season tournament since 2010.
In 2014, the Panthers would again advance to the OVC Tournament after finishing the regular season in third place of the OVC West Division - just the second time EIU has made back-to-back tournament appearances since the 2003 season. Sherman Blanford and Reggie Smith both earned All-OVC honors as Blanford was tabbed to the second team while Smith was named to the newcomer team, respectively. It marked the first time since 2010 that the Panthers had multiple players named to the All-OVC Teams.
In 2015 Spoonhour coached the Panthers to an 18-15 record which was only EIU’s second winning season since the 2001 season. The 18 wins were the fifth most in the school’s NCAA Division I history and included an NCAA Division I school record nine straight wins in December and January. During the season EIU appeared in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll for the first time since the 2001 season. EIU advanced to the quarterfinals of the OVC Tournament before appearing in the CollegeInsiders.com Postseason Tournament. EIU beat Oakland in the opening round for the program’s first NCAA Division I postseason victory. The Panthers had two players - Trae Anderson and Cornell Johnston - both earn All-OVC honors with Johnston being named the OVC Freshman of the Year.
In 2015-16 EIU once again returned to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament as Anderson earned first team All-OVC honors. The Panthers finished 9-7 in the OVC marking the first time since the 1999-2000, 2000-01 seasons that EIU had posted back-to-back winnning seasons in the OVC.
Last season (2016-17) EIU posted one its biggest wins in school history as the Panthers went on the road to beat Southeastern Conference member Missouri. The Panthers featured a balanced scoring attack which helped EIU go 8-5 in the non-conference portion of its schedule. Playing in a very balanced OVC, the Panthers failed to make the OVC Tournament for the first time under Spoonhour finishing with a 14-15 overall record, 6-10 in the league.
Spoonhour grew up in a basketball family with his dad Charlie a long time head coach at Missouri State, Saint Louis and UNLV. Spoonhour played college basketball at Pittsburg State in Kansas earning his bachelor’s degree in 1994. He was an honorable mention All-Conference selection. He then began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at Central Missouri helping the team advance to two straight NCAA Division II Tournaments.
He joined his father’s staff at Saint Louis in 1996 and helped the Billikens make the 1998 NCAA Tournament advancing to the second round. He was hired as the head coach at Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Ill., for the 2000-01 season leading the team to the Junior College National Championship with a 36-1 record. He was named the NJCAA National Coach of the Year that season.
Winning is something that Spoonhour has been able to do at all levels of basketball. During his third season as the head coach at Moberly Area Community College in Missouri he guided the team to its second NJCAA Region 16 Tournament appearance in three seasons. In four total years as a head coach at the junior college level he has amassed a career record of 100-29. In 2004 Spoonhour was the interim head coach at UNLV guiding the Runnin’ Rebels to a 6-3 record as they lost in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
After one season at Wabash Valley College, Spoonhour joined his father’s staff at UNLV from 2001-04. His father Charlie stepped down in the final month of the season giving Jay a taste of the head coaching experience at the Division I level.
Following the 2004 season Spoonhour worked two seasons each at Missouri and Texas San Antonio before taking over as the head coach and athletic director at Moberly Area CC.
Spoonhour and his wife Nicole have three children Gracie, Charlie and Sam.