Walker officially back at ECSU
Press conference was held Friday afternoon
By David Gough
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Elizabeth City State University officially announced in a Friday afternoon press conference that Shawn Walker Sr. is coming home.
Walker is back as the new men’s basketball coach for the Vikings, taking over for interim coach Dwayne Saunders and former head coach John Hill who was fired in April.
The 46-year-old coach played for the men’s basketball team from 1991 to 1994 before eventually being the program’s head coach for 12 seasons starting in 2002. He left in 2014 to pursue the opportunity of coaching Division I program Grambling State.
He was let go from the Louisiana school after three seasons and he’ll be back on the sideline after a year away from coaching.
“I’m excited to be back at Elizabeth City again,” Walker said at the press conference. “In the Christian church, we hear the song ‘Oh, Happy Day’ and today is definitely a happy day for me and my family.”
ECSU put an in-depth search together trying to find the best person for the job. New athletic director George Bright said that there were more than 70 candidates for the search committee to go through.
It was a big committee that consisted of alumni, community members, faculty, administration staff and students. Four finalists were ultimately selected.
“(The committee) was tasked to find a head coach who possessed several defining characteristics,” Bright said at the press conference. “A strong commitment toward excellence in the education of young men, leadership, relentless recruiting ability, accountability, character and integrity, a proven winner, and an unwavering commitment to take our men’s basketball program to the next level.”
When all was said and done, Bright and the rest of the committee felt that Walker was the best possible decision.
“We are thrilled to welcome him back home,” Bright said. “We are confident that he’ll bring an exciting style of play to the R.L. Vaughan Center and will produce a team that our fans will enthusiastically embrace and support.”
Walker had a successful first tenure at ECSU as he led the Vikings to a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in 2007.
He arrived at Grambling State with the basketball program hit with sanctions and a lack of success in the years before his hire. He went from just two wins his first year to 16 wins in his third and final year.
The Tigers posted the best record in the Southwestern Athletic Conference last winter, Walker’s first year away from the team.
Due to NCAA APR sanctions, Grambling could not compete in the SWAC tournament championship last season.
“In year three, we were ahead of schedule,” Walker told the Daily Advance. “We were at championship level. It was not meant for me to continue, but I believe if I continued I would say that I’ve won a championship everywhere I’ve been.”
Walker said there were no hard feelings for his departure at Grambling State and he was happy to see them further their success in the year he was gone.
“I got a chance to see a program go from nothing to something,” Walker said. “I think the players there are doing extremely well which I think is a product of some of the work we did.”
The last year has been a year away from coaching for Walker. While he would’ve originally preferred to keep on coaching, he said that he learned a lot in his one year away from the sideline.
In that time, he was an elementary physical education teacher and he observed several basketball practices from middle school all the way up to Division 1 basketball.
“It was a god-sent professional development year. It was perfect timing,” Walker said. “I’m excited to now have the opportunity to get back to (coaching).”