The search is on for a new men’s basketball head coach at a Swannanoa Valley college.
Anthony Barringer, who coached the Warren Wilson College Owls for four seasons and served as the Swannanoa school’s sports information director during that time, will part ways with his alma mater on May 17.
Barringer played point guard for the Owls and helped lead the team to its only United States Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Division II National Championship in 2013. The Charlotte native was team’s director of skill development, recruiting coordinator and director of strength and conditioning following his graduation in 2014.
He began his coaching career as the interim head coach at Warren Wilson during the 2015-16 season. Barringer led the Owls to an 18-14 record and an appearance in the semifinal round of the USCAA Men’s Division II National Championship Tournament in his role as interim coach. The school named him its permanent men’s basketball coach following that season.
Warren Wilson missed the postseason in Barringer's second season on the sidelines but bounced back in a big way the in 2017-18. The Owls put up a school record 144 points in a road victory against Crown College that November before eclipsing that mark (148) in front of a home crowd a couple of weeks later.
That season Barringer guided his team to 17 wins and a return to the semifinal round of the tournament, where Warren Wilson fell 105-99 to Villa Maria. Last season the Owls finished 12-18 and failed to qualify for the tournament.
After seven seasons with the Owls as a player and coach, the time commitment proved to be too much, he said.
"It's my duty to provide the best situation for my family and when I looked at whether this situation was one where my family could thrive, and it was not," Barringer said. "I don't have anything else to give Warren Wilson right now and I don't think Warren Wilson has anything more it can give me. The job just requires more time than I can give."
The most difficult part of the decision, he continued, was informing the players.
"I"m still struggling with it, to be honest," said Barringer. "It was probably the most difficult thing I've had to do in my adult life. It was really tough."
The coach expressed appreciation for Warren Wilson College president Lynn Morton and director of athletics and adventure sports Joni Williamson.
"Their vision for what they want Warren Wilson to be is incredible," he said. "It has been an amazing opportunity to work with Joni."
Williamson, who stepped into her role last May, said she wished Barringer the best and added that he brought stability to the men's basketball program.
"He's been great for the program," she said. "He put in a lot of time, energy and effort into it and he really focused on bringing in the right athletes that have helped get the program where it is today."
Williamson is looking for someone with previous collegiate coaching experience to fill the position.
"I'm looking for someone with a proven track record of success on the court, in the classroom and in the community," she said. "Athletics is a big component of the college so I think it's important for a coach to believe in what the college is all about."
The student-athletes will be part of the hiring process, according to the athletic director.
"We want to make sure the person is the right fit for the team," she said. "We want them to feel like we're bringing in the right coach for them."
As Warren Wilson College approaches an exploratory membership in the NCAA Division III in the 2019-20 academic year, Williamson would like to find someone who is familiar with the collegiate athletic association.
"It would be great to find a coach with experience coaching in the NCAA, since that's the direction our athletic program is going," she said.