Chuck Benson enters his third season as head coach of the Carson-Newman program and seventh season overall in Mossy Creek.
Benson, a 1991 graduate of C-N, spent four seasons as associate head coach of the Eagles before being named head coach.
In year two for Benson, the Eagles finished 15-14 overall and 8-10 in the SAC. The 2011-2012 campaigned was highlighted by a sweep of archrival and nationally ranked Lincoln Memorial. Benson's Eagles knocked the fifth-ranked Railsplitters down on the road 64-61 - ending a 30-game home winning streak for LMU - on Jan. 25 before coming back to Holt Fieldhouse and turning the trick again with a 77-69 victory on senior day. The Eagles also ended a near decade long home losing streak to Tusculum, beating the Pioneers 78-64 before nearly 900 fans at Holt Fieldhouse.
Under Benson's tutelage, sophomore stars Antoine Davis and Ish Sanders each finished the year as second team All-SAC performers. Sanders locked down a SAC Player of the Week honor for the week of Dec. 12 after leading the Eagles to wins over Tennessee Wesleyan and Lees-McRae. Sanders averaged 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting an efficient 50-percent from the field. He also had an assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 3-to-1.
Davis and Sanders both finished their junior seasons with 487 points each. Benson's Eagles finished the year ranked in the top 30 nationally in three pointers made per game with 8.2, while Sanders ranked 34th in the nation and third in the SAC for the stat. The Eagles also took care of the ball, while forcing turnovers as well. Carson-Newman ranked second in the SAC in turnover margin for Benson's second year.
The Eagles came on strong at the end of Benson's first season in 2010-11. After entering Christmas break with a 3-7 record, C-N turned things around to go 8-8 down the stretch, including five straight road wins. The Eagles turned heads by finishing the regular season in a tie for fourth in the conference standings with an 8-10 mark after being picked ninth in the preseason poll. C-N's season came to an end with a first round loss to No. 13 Lincoln Memorial in the South Atlantic Conference tournament, finishing the year at 11-16 overall.
C-N turned in several memorable moments during Benson's first year at the helm. The Eagles claimed quality road wins at Anderson, an Elite Eight participant, and Brevard, the defending conference champion. The Eagles also defeated rival Maryville College for the first time since 2006. Freshman guard Ishmael Sanders thrived leading the team in scoring as he set a conference record with 51 points against Mars Hill and broke a school record by making 11 3-pointers against the Lions. Guard Bradley Tumer also broke the conference's single game record for assists with 19 against Newberry. Sanders and guard Antonio Sullivan each earned SAC Player of the Week honors, while Sanders was named to the SAC All-Freshman team. As a team, the Eagles proved to be one of the top defensive squads in the SAC as they finished the year as the league leader in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.322) and third in field goal percentage defense (.428).
Benson's two-decade career in the collegiate ranks extends much further than Mossy Creek, including five seasons in the Southeastern Conference at the University of Tennessee, as well as building Martin Methodist College into a national contender in his seven seasons as head coach at the NAIA Division I institution.
Prior to joining the Carson-Newman staff in 2006, Benson was an assistant at Tennessee from 2003-05 after Vols head coach Buzz Peterson hired him to help bolster recruiting efforts. Tennessee earned a National Invitational Tournament bid for the 2003-04 season.
Benson joined Bobby Lutz' staff at UNC-Charlotte for the 2005-06 season. The 49ers were in the preseason Top 25 and earned an NIT bid during his one season as an assistant.
In April of 2006, Benson accepted a position at UNC-Wilmington and served as an assistant there until he received the call from Eagles head coach Dale Clayton in August of 2006 with the opportunity to come back to Carson-Newman.
Benson brings a wealth of coaching experience to the Eagles, including a seven-year stint (1996-2003) as head coach at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn. The RedHawks were a part of a strong Transouth Athletic Conference, which included three schools (Belmont, Birmingham Southern and Lipscomb) that would eventually become NCAA Division I programs.
During his time in Pulaski, Benson led the RedHawks program to unprecedented heights, compiling a 137-95 record. Martin Methodist averaged 20 wins a year over his last six seasons and was listed in the NAIA national rankings for 40 weeks from 1999-2003, including a No. 4 ranking in December of 2002. Benson guided the RedHawks to three consecutive NAIA National Tournament berths from 2001-03, including back-to-back appearances in the Sweet 16 in 2001 and 2002.
Four Martin Methodist players earned NAIA All-America honors during Benson's tenure, which was a first for the small rural institution with less than 500 students enrolled. Off the floor, 16 men's basketball players graduated from Martin Methodist with Benson at the helm. He also implemented the NAIA's "Champions of Character" initiative as a way to emphasize character both on and off the court to his student-athletes. Aware of his responsibility to the institution as a whole, Benson served on one SACS accreditation committee and was a member of the Vice President for Academic Affairs selection committee.
Prior to his start in the collegiate ranks, Benson created the Tennessee Travelers summer basketball program in 1987 and coached within the organization during his college years. Benson spent the 1990-91 season as the head boys' basketball coach at Morristown Covenant Academy in Morristown, Tenn. The team advanced to the championship game in the TANAS State Tournament while compiling an 18-10 overall record.
Starting in the fall of 1991, Benson spent time on staff at Lincoln Memorial University (1991-92), Carson-Newman (1992-93), and Tennessee (1993-96). While at Tennessee, Benson was a part of a National Invitational Tournament appearance (1995-96) and helped produce two top 20 recruiting classes.
A native of Newport, Tenn., Benson graduated from Cocke County High School in 1987 and earned a B.A. degree in History from Carson-Newman in 1991. He earned a Master's degree in Educational Curriculum and Instruction from Lincoln Memorial University in 1996. Benson and his wife Tabbatha reside in Jefferson City. They have one daughter, Abby and one son, Jake.
Chuck Benson, Head Basketball Coach, Carson-Newman
"I grew up 25 minutes down the road in Newport and have been a fan of Carson-Newman basketball for the last 30 plus years. To be the head men's basketball coach at my alma mater is an honor and a dream come true. I am very excited and look forward to getting to work immediately as we prepare for the 2010-11 season."
David Barger, Athletic Director, Carson-Newman
"Coach Benson has earned the opportunity to serves as our head men's basketball coach. He is high energy, will develop solid relationships with our student-athletes and be effectively engaged with our former players and community. Chuck has the orange and blue blood we are looking for."
Murray Bartow, Head Basketball Coach, East Tennessee
"I obviously, from knowing Chuck for a number of years, think it's a great, great hire for Carson-Newman...I think Chuck is exactly what Carson-Newman was looking for as both a player, and as a person...Chuck is a smart coach, and has been around a number of very successful coaches, and I think he'll draw from that and bring a very exciting style of play to Carson-Newman."
Buzz Peterson, Head Basketball Coach, UNC
"I am just very excited for Chuck and his family...Chuck has a strong passion for the game and even a stronger passion for recruiting...He understands so much of this game is recruiting and takes the challenge of it head on. I would expect to see real changes in the talent at Carson-Newman in the near future."
Bobby Lutz, Winningest Coach in UNC Charlotte
"I think it's a great hire for Carson-Newman...I spent nine years at Pfeiffer (University) at a similar level, and believe Chuck has all the qualities that will make him very successful, not only at C-N, but anywhere...He knows how to build a program, and understands how important success on the court, in the classroom, and later contributions by former players are to building a program... Chuck is a great balance of what a coach should be today. He understands the importance of building winning character on the court and in life. He has a great basketball IQ and passion for the game, and he couples that passion with a great demeanor and keeping life in perspective. "
|90-91||Morristown Covenant Academy||Head Coach|
|91-92||Lincoln Memorial||Graduate Assistant|
|93-94||University of Tennessee||Assistant Coach
|94-95||University of Tennessee||Assistant Coach|
|95-96||University of Tennessee||Assistant Coach|
|96-97||Martin Methodist College||Head Coach||12-22|
|97-98||Martin Methodist College||Head Coach||15-18|
|98-99||Martin Methodist College||Head Coach||18-15|
|99-00||Martin Methodist College||Head Coach||23-11|
|00-01||Martin Methodist College||Head Coach||23-10|
|01-02||Martin Methodist College||Head Coach||25-9|
|02-03||Martin Methodist College||Head Coach||21-10|
|03-04||University of Tennessee||Assistant Coach|
|04-05||University of Tennessee||Assistant Coach|
|05-06||UNC Charlotte||Assistant Coach|
|06||UNC Wilmington||Assistant Coach|
|06-07||Carson-Newman||Associate Head Coach|
|07-08||Carson-Newman||Associate Head Coach|
|08-09||Carson-Newman||Associate Head Coach|
|09-10||Carson-Newman||Associate Head Coach|
|10-11||Carson-Newman||Head Coach||11-16 (8-10 SAC)|
|11-12||Carson-Newman||Head Coach||15-14 (8-10 SAC)|
163-125 (9 years)