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Dustin Kerns
Dustin Kerns was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Appalachian State men's basketball team to their first conference title in 45 years.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Extends Kerns For Next Six Seasons

On the heels of a record-breaking season, App State head men’s basketball Dustin Kerns has signed a contract extension that runs through the 2029-30 season, Director of Athletics Doug Gillin announced Friday. The extension was approved by Chancellor Sheri Everts and the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees.

“Dustin and his staff have turned App State Men’s Basketball into a perennial contender for conference titles and postseason berths, and we are excited to see the program’s continued upward trajectory under his leadership,” Gillin said. “With 27 wins, the first regular-season Sun Belt title, historic home crowds and national television appearances, Dustin’s team showed App State can compete among the best in college basketball, and we look forward to continued success for the program and our student-athletes both on and off the court.”

The Mountaineers set several program records in the 2023-24 season in Kerns’ fifth year at the helm, tallying a program-best 27 wins, an undefeated record at home for the first time in the Division I era, a Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship and an NIT appearance for the first time since the 2006-07 season. App State also set the Holmes Center attendance record, hosted the first two sellouts at the Holmes Center in over a decade and welcomed four of the six largest crowds in the building’s history.

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App State is one of just 23 Division I teams with at least 27 wins and one of only 12 teams with at least 16 conference wins this season. Additionally, the Mountaineers tied the 1988-89 team for the most nonconference wins in program history with 10 while defeating a Power Five opponent in back-to-back years for the first time since the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

Adding to the team success, the Mountaineers posted three wins against teams that made the NCAA Tournament this season and were the only team in the country to be undefeated in both Quad 1 and Quad 2 games. App State was the only team in the nation to post three winning streaks of at least eight games this season.

“We are so thankful to our Board of Trustees, Chancellor Everts and Doug Gillin for the confidence to keep our program moving forward,” Kerns said. “Thank you to our student-athletes and our coaching staff who are the reason we do this. We are thrilled at the direction and investment that has been shown to make App State Basketball one of the best programs out there.”

“Our students and fan base have made the Holmes Center one of the best game day atmospheres in the Sun Belt. Myself, Brittany, Emory and Riggs love being Mountaineers and we are so excited to continue to be a part of this incredible Boone community.”

Kerns has not posted a losing season in his five years at App State, making him the first Mountaineer head coach to secure five consecutive winning seasons since Tom Apke did so from 1987-1992. His 97 wins across his tenure are the most wins by a Mountaineer head coach over a five-year stretch in the Division I era.

Because of the Mountaineers’ success, Kerns was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year, marking App State’s first conference coach of the year since Houston Fancher took home the award in 2003. Kerns was also named the NABC All-District 23 Coach of the Year and was a finalist for both the Jim Phelan and Hugh Durham Coach of the Year.

A program-record four players received Sun Belt honors this past season under Kerns’ tutelage, which included two first team all-conference selections for the first time since 1999-00. App State has seen six players garner All-Sun Belt honors in Kerns’ tenure and four first-team selections.

The 2023-24 Mountaineers featured one of the most efficient offenses and defenses in the Sun Belt as they led the league in scoring defense while also boasting the fourth-best scoring offense, leading to the second-best scoring margin in the Sun Belt at 11.2. The Mountaineers have led the league in scoring defense each of the past three seasons and have finished in the top two every year under Kerns.

Statistically, the Mountaineers ranked in the top 10 in the country in blocks (first), blocks per game (first), field-goal percentage defense (fourth), fouls per game (third) and rebounds per game (fifth). App State’s 230 blocks in 2023-24 set a program record.

Capping off the historic season, the Mountaineers’ NIT appearance marked the third time in the Kerns era that the Mountaineers have made the postseason. App State made the NCAA Tournament after claiming the Sun Belt Tournament crown in 2020-21 while also participating in the Basketball Classic in the 2021-22 season. Before Kerns, the Mountaineers hadn’t made a postseason appearance since 2009-10.

Off the floor, Mountaineer student-athletes have experienced success under Kerns as three student-athletes made the 2023 fall semester Dean’s List. The Mountaineers have achieved at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA each of the past two semesters.