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High Point Panthers

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High Point Panthers

High Point Panthers
University High Point University
Conference Big South Conference
Southern Conference (men's lacrosse)
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Craig Keilitz
Location High Point, NC
Varsity teams 16
Basketball arena Millis Center
Baseball stadium George S. Erath Field at Coy O. Williard Baseball Stadium
Other arenas Vert Track, Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium (track, soccer, lacrosse)
Mascot Prowler the Panther
Nickname Panthers
Purple  White
Website .com.highpointpantherswww

The High Point Panthers are the 16 varsity athletic teams that represent High Point University (HPU). All of HPU's varsity teams compete at the NCAA Division I level. All sports except men's lacrosse compete in the Big South Conference. The men's lacrosse team joined the Southern Conference July 1, 2014.

The Panthers joined Division I in 1999, after previously having been NCAA Division II and being members of the NAIA prior to 1992. HPU was a founding member of the North State Conference, which is now the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas.[1]

Craig Keilitz became High Point's athletic director in January 2008 after serving as Associate AD at Wake Forest. He replaced Woody Gibson, who had been AD since 1999. HPU's other previous athletic directors include Jerry Steele, who was also basketball coach from 1972–2003, and Virgil Yow, who was also a coach. HPU's men's basketball coach is Scott Cherry, who was a member of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels' 1993 NCAA Championship team.

HPU's main athletic facilities are the Millis Center (basketball and volleyball), Vert Stadium (track, soccer and lacrosse) and Williard Stadium (baseball). In September 2010, President Nido Qubein announced plans to build a 5,000-seat basketball arena in the future.[2]

Men's basketball

The High Point University men's basketball team is coached by Scott Cherry. The team began varsity play in 1927-28 and was a charter member of the North State Conference (now Conference Carolinas) from 1930-31 through 1996-97, when the school began its transition to NCAA Division I. High Point won 15 regular-season championships and 13 tournament championships while in the North State Conference and participated in the NAIA national tournament in 1939, 1942, 1946, 1951, 1964, 1965, 1969 and 1979. High Point participated in the NCAA Division II Tournament in 1997.

HPU moved up to NCAA Division I in 1999-2000 and joined the Big South Conference. The Panthers made it to the Big South final in their first year of eligibility in 2002 and also made it to the championship game in 2004. HPU has had two Big South Players of the Year: Danny Gathings (2003–04) and Arizona Reid (2006–07, 2007–08). Reid is the only player in conference history with over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds and was A.P. All-American honorable mention twice. In 2011-12, guard Nick Barbour broke Reid's Division I scoring record, finishing his career with 2,121 points.[3] Barbour became the second player in team history to lead HPU in scoring four times in a row.[4]

The team's prominent alumni include current Minnesota head coach J.D. Barnett (1971–72), Jerry Steele (1972-2003) and Bart Lundy (2003–09).

Women's basketball

Jennifer Hoover, Head Coach, accepting Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year Award

High Point University started women's basketball in 1967-68 and the team is now coached by DeUnna Hendrix (pronounced de-AH-nah), who was hired in May 2012.[5] Hendrix served as assistant coach for one season under Jennifer Hoover.[6] In Hoover's only season in 2011-12, the team achieved a record of 20–13. Her performance earned her the Maggie Dixon Rookie of the Year award, presented to a coach with remarkable success in their rookie year as a head coach.[7] Hoover was then hired by her alma mater, Wake Forest, to be head coach in May 2012.[8]

High Point won the 1978 AIAW Division II national championship with a 92-88 overtime win over South Carolina State. The following year, High Point set a program record with 33 wins but was unable to defend its national title, falling to Tougaloo in the AIAW Region II Tournament.

High Point completed its transition to Division I in 1999-2000 and joined the Big South Conference. High Point has finished above .500 in the Big South in every season since 2000-01. HPU won the Big South regular season championship in 2006-07, the team's only title since joining the league. High Point finished second in the Big South regular season and made it to the Big South tournament final in 2011-12, just the second time the team finished in the top two in the standings and made it to the championship in the same season. High Point earned its second WNIT berth in 2012.

High Point’s all-time leading scorer is current Spring Hill College head coach Karen (Curtis) McConico who scored 2,612 points from 1994-98. The team’s most prominent alumnus is former Duke head coach and current television color commentator Debbie Leonard who played for High Point from 1970-74.[9]

The first female player played on a college men's basketball team in 1944 when then High Point men's coach Virgil Yow recruited Nancy Isenhour to be on the team. She started three games.[10]

Cross country/track & field

Head coach Mike Esposito leads HPU's men's and women's cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field teams. Esposito was coach at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for 19 years and has been High Point's head coach since 2005. HPU's longest-tenured coach was Bob Davidson, who led HPU for 39 seasons into the early 2000s. The Panthers' strongest events are cross country and long distance events in track & field. HPU's men's cross country team won three-straight Big South Championships from 2002–04 and has been runner-up at the Big South Championship from 2007-11. The women's cross country team won its first Big South Championship in 2011 and Esposito was named conference Coach of the Year. The Panthers have had one NCAA Division I All-American in track & field, Jemissa Hess in the indoor mile in 2005. Two alumni have competed in the Olympics: Taylor Milne represented Canada in the 1,500-meter in 2008 and Tamas Kovacs represented Hungary in the marathon in 2012. Other notable alumni include former Tennessee head coach Bill Webb and current ZAP Fitness runners Jesse Cherry and Cole Atkins. HPU's Vert Stadium is named in honor of Dick Vert, an HPU trustee who was a cross country and middle distance runner and graduated from HPU in 1960.


High Point University had football from the 1920s until 1950 and was a member of the North State Conference. HPU played at NC State in the 1930 season opener, which was the first night football game played in the state of North Carolina. The team played at Albion Millis Stadium, now the site of Vert Stadium. There is often speculation about High Point restarting a football program but no timeline has been announced.[11]

Men's golf

Men's golf is one of High Point's longest-running sports behind men's basketball. The team moved up to NCAA Division I in 1999 and had its best Big South Championship finish, third, in 2006. HPU's highest individual finisher was Ryan Taylor, who placed second in 2007. The team's most prominent alumnus is Roger Watson, who played for HPU from 1963–66, won national club championships in 1974 and 1975 and has since been inducted to several halls of fame, including the NAIA Hall of Fame and North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.[12] High Point named Greg Flesher head coach in 2012, replacing J.B. White (2000–12).[13]

Women's golf

High Point University started women's golf in 2003-04 and the team achieved its highest Big South Championship finish - third - in 2005. HPU has had one individual Big South women's golf champion, Ann Marie Dalton in 2008. Vici Pate Flesher was named head coach in 2010 and led HPU to a fourth-place finish in the 2011 Big South Championship, up from eighth the year before.[14] Pate Flesher previously led the Methodist College women's golf team to seven-straight NCAA Division III championships.

Men's lacrosse

High Point University announced the addition of men's lacrosse as part of the university's $2.1 billion growth plan in September 2010. HPU's first varsity men's lacrosse season will be 2013. HPU named Jon Torpey head coach in 2010 and he joined HPU on a full-time basis in June 2011. Torpey's college teammate at Ohio State, Pat Tracy, as well as former Maryland attacker Michael Phipps joined HPU as assistant coaches in 2011. High Point brought in 20 players for the 2011-12 season, who redshirted in preparation for the inaugural varsity season.[15] The 2012-13 roster features 39 players, including three from North Carolina and three from Canada.[16]

Women's lacrosse

High Point University announced the addition of women's lacrosse in 2009 and won the National Lacrosse Conference championship in its first season of 2011. The Panthers went 15-4 in their inaugural campaign, setting a record for wins by a first-year NCAA Division I program. The previous record was 13-4 by Navy in 2008. The team is coached by Lyndsey Boswell, who was named NLC Coach of the Year in 2011. She previously was head coach at St. Andrews Presbyterian College and was an NCAA Division II All-American while playing at Pfeifer. HPU attacker Grace Gaeng transferred from Maryland and was named NLC Player of the Year in 2011. The team repeated with a 15-4 record in 2012 and won the NLC regular season.[17] High Point will play in the Big South Conference in 2013.

Men's soccer

High Point men's soccer began play in 1929. In their second season in 1930, the Panthers hosted the first-ever intercollegiate soccer game held below the Mason–Dixon line, beating Catawba College 1-0.[18] The team was dropped in 1942 due to World War II but was then brought back in 1971 and moved to Division I in 1999.

HPU recorded its best overall record and won its first-ever Big South Regular Season Championship in 2010 when the team went 16-4-1 overall and perfect 8-0-0 in the Big South. The Panthers reached the Big South Championship twice but lost both times, falling to Winthrop in 2006 and Coastal Carolina in 2010. Karo Okiomah became HPU’s first Big South Player of the Year and All-American after scoring 12 goals in 16 games for the Panthers in 2010.[19] The team achieved national rankings in 2010 and 2012 and is the only HPU team to achieve a Div. I ranking to date.[20] Dustin Fonder was named High Point's head coach in 2007 and was named Big South Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2010.[21]

Women's soccer

High Point University began women's soccer in 1992 and won Big South Tournaments in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2010, advancing to the NCAA Tournament each of those seasons. The program holds a Big South record with six-straight shutouts in conference tournament games, not allowing a goal in either the 2009 or 2010 tournaments.[22] HPU tied for its first Big South regular season title in 2010. In its most recent NCAA Tournament game at Maryland on November 12, 2010, High Point led 1–0 before falling to the Terrapins, 4–1. The team is coached by former Francis Marion head coach Marty Beall.

Women's volleyball

High Point University began its volleyball program in 1973 and moved up to NCAA Division I in 1999. The Panthers tied for their first Big South regular season championship in 2008, going 26-7 overall and 13-3 in league play. Former Dayton and Maryland assistant coach Jason Oliver was named HPU's head coach in 2009 and led the team to its first-ever Big South Tournament title and NCAA appearance in 2010.[23] Audie Gonzalez was named tournament MVP. The Panthers played No. 12 Duke, taking a 3-0 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium in their only NCAA Tournament game on December 3, 2010.[24]

Men's and Women's Tennis

High Point University stopped its tennis program in 2008. Most recently the 2003 Men's team won the Big South Tennis Championship defeating fellow Big South member Winthrop University. The Panthers, who played in five consecutive NAIA national championship tournaments (1970-75) finished #4 in 1974 NAIA Men's National Championship in Kansas City, Mo. Coach Ray Alley was named 1975 NAIA men's Tennis National Coach of the Year. Peter Ranney was named NAIA Honorable Mention All-American in 1975.

Finland stars from the early 90's and 2000's included All-Conference, Rolex Champion, and Athletes of the Year players Vesa Kemppanien, Pekka Pohjamo, and Tavvi Surousa. High Point star Pekka Pohjamo won the singles and doubles at the 1994 Rolex ITA Collegiate Invitational. He teamed with American Donald Marriott to take the doubles title. Donald Marriott who played in the early 90's also gardnered All-Conference, Millis-Scholar Athlete, and All-District awards. Marriott would also win multiple "City of High Point" tennis championships 96,98,03 and North Carolina State Doubles titles including the 2003 NC State Mixed Doubles Championship with former WTA player Jennifer Goodling. Marriott is currently the Director of Tennis at the Statesville Country Club in Statesville, North Carolina.


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  3. ^ The 2,121 points total is derived from the 2,092 career points as cited here: Wednesday Recap: Hummel turns a corner - Stats & Info Blog - ESPN plus the 29 total points scored in the two games after playing Campbell, indicated in the game log here: Nick Barbour Stats, News, Videos, Highlights, Pictures, Bio - High Point Panthers - ESPN
  4. ^ a b c High Point University 2011-12 Men's Basketball Game Notes
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  7. ^ "Jennifer Hoover named the 2012 Spalding Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year". WBCA. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
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