GREENVILLE, N.C. – Michael Schwartz has been tabbed the 24th head coach in East Carolina men’s basketball program history.
Considered one of the most versatile and well-rounded assistant coaches in college basketball, Schwartz has spent the last seven seasons on staff at the University of Tennessee – including four as the associate head coach. In the fall of 2019, Schwartz earned feature placement on The Athletic’s list of the nation’s top-25 up-and-coming college basketball coaches.
“I am pleased to welcome Michael, along with his wife Stephanie and children Sydney and Samantha, to ECU,” Gilbert said. “This is an exciting day for our men’s basketball program and Pirate Nation. Mike has all the intangibles and acumen we were looking for as a head coach during the process and it became immediately clear he was the right fit to lead our program.
“Mike is a proven leader who has all the tools needed to lay the groundwork as we work together to bring sustained success for our program. He brings enthusiasm and positive energy daily and will emphasize accountability, academics, player development and engagement within the community and surrounding region. He has been a great evaluator on the recruiting trail for more than 20 years. He will show a genuine commitment to our student-athletes from day one on and off the court and be a mentor for all of them moving forward. We are excited to have such a talented coach on board to lead the Pirates forward.”
Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes has entrusted Schwartz with the role of defensive coordinator for each of the last five seasons, a move that has yielded extraordinary results, as the Vols own a 118-45 record dating to the start of the 2017-18 campaign. During the 2020-21 season, Tennessee posted the nation’s fourth-best defensive efficiency rating, per KenPom.com—its second top-10 finish in four years. Additionally, Schwartz’s schemes resulted in the Vols leading the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense in 2018 (65.7), 2021 (63.5) and 2022 (62.8)
“Mike is the total package and one of the sharpest basketball minds I’ve known,” Barnes stated. “He’s been prepared to lead his own program for several years now. He’s had multiple opportunities, but he’s been very deliberate in waiting for the ‘right’ opportunity. Jon Gilbert‘s vision and leadership align perfectly with Mike’s, and I have no doubt that they will build a championship culture in short order at East Carolina. Mike is going to put together an incredible staff, and they’ll be relentless in recruiting and developing outstanding players who are high-character young men.”
Schwartz’s leadership was instrumental in helping guide the Big Orange to the 2022 SEC Tournament title, 2018 regular-season SEC Championship, an appearance in the 2018 SEC Tournament Championship Game and a No. 3 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament where the Vols advanced to the second round.
Tennessee’s defensive statistics during that 2017-18 season stood among the top programs nationally. The Vols led the SEC in scoring defense and ranked sixth nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings.
There was no drop-off in 2018-19. Tennessee led the SEC in field-goal percentage defense (.393) and blocks per game (5.4). The team’s 199 total blocks stood as a school record. The Vols held 17 opponents to fewer than 70 points and eight opponents to fewer than 60. And three Vols who benefited from Schwartz’s tutelage were selected in the 2019 NBA Draft.
For four consecutive weeks—amid a school-record 19-game win streak—Tennessee stood atop the Associated Press Top 25 rankings. During that span, McDonald’s All-American Josiah-Jordan James signed with UT, validating Schwartz’s years of tireless effort as the elite guard’s primary recruiter.
The Vols earned a No. 2 seed for the 2019 NCAA Tournament, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and finished the season ranked fifth in the coaches’ poll.
In 2019-20, Schwartz’s defensive schemes saw UT lead the SEC in blocks while ranking second in scoring defense during league play. Junior forward Yves Pons, another standout recruited by Schwartz, was named the 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year—the first Tennessee player ever to win the award.
Tennessee finished the 2020-21 season with the nation’s fourth-rated defensive efficiency, per KenPom, while ranking 13th nationally in defensive turnover percentage—forcing turnovers on 22.8 percent of its opponents’ possessions.
Schwartz has handled the scouting duties for numerous wins over the past five seasons, including triumphs over No. 3 Auburn, No. 15 Kansas and No. 18 Purdue, four wins over Kentucky (two on the road), a pair victories vs. Georgia Tech and a win against Wright State in the NCAA Tournament.
An outstanding scout and floor coach, Schwartz played a key role in the development of Tennessee’s 2016-17 freshman class, which was responsible for 44 percent of the team’s scoring that season and finished the year as the highest-scoring crop of freshmen in program history (1,040 points). Forward Grant Williams anchored that class and developed into a two-time SEC Player of the Year, a consensus first-team All-American and a first-round NBA Draft pick.
Schwartz spent the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach, offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Tulsa, helping the Golden Hurricane advance to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to that, he spent four seasons as the lead assistant under Rodney Terry (another former Barnes assistant) at Fresno State, including one year as associate head coach.
Shouldering responsibility for Fresno’s in-game coordination, recruiting, scouting and skill development, Schwartz helped guide the Bulldogs to their first 20-win season and postseason appearance in seven years—the finals of the College Basketball Invitational—in 2013-14. That same year, Paul Watson was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year and selected to the Kyle Macy Freshman All-American Team.
Fresno State produced an NBA guard during Schwartz’s time on staff there, as Tyler Johnson (2011-14) spent four seasons with the Miami Heat. During Johnson’s three seasons with Schwartz on staff at FSU, his scoring average, field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage all improved each year.
Schwartz also helped spearhead the assembly of some of Fresno State’s highest-rated recruiting classes. The Bulldogs beat out several Pac 12 schools to sign shooting guard Marvelle Harris, who in 2016 became Fresno’s all-time leading scorer and the Mountain West Player of the Year as well as earning AP All-American acclaim.
No stranger to the Southeast and East Coast, Schwartz spent six years on staff at Miami (Fla.) in the Atlantic Coast Conference—the first two as coordinator of basketball operations and the final four as a full-time assistant coach.
As an assistant in Coral Gables, Schwartz helped lead the Hurricanes to an 83-52 record, appearances in the Top 25 rankings and three postseason appearances in four years. His impact was immense during Miami’s historic 2007-08 campaign, which included the second-most wins in school history (23), a school-record 14 home wins and a program-best fifth-place finish in the ACC.
Miami earned a No. 7 seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament and defeated St. Mary’s before falling to Barnes’ No. 2-seeded Texas squad in the second round.
In Schwartz’s operations role at Miami, he handled video responsibilities, film breakdown, opponent scouting, oversight of recruiting mailings and served as a liaison with the program’s managerial staff.
Schwartz’s tenure in southern Florida was preceded by a one-year stint as an assistant coach at the University of Texas at San Antonio, a position he attained after working as Barnes’ video coordinator at Texas for two seasons.
While working in a full-time capacity alongside Barnes at Texas, Schwartz was a part of a Longhorns program that posted a two-year record of 51-15, produced a pair NBA Draft picks (guards T.J. Ford and Royal Ivey) and advanced to the 2003 Final Four and the 2004 Sweet Sixteen.
Following his prep career at Beverly Hills High School, Schwartz played two seasons of college basketball at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. He then transferred to Texas where he concluded his playing career and was a member of Barnes’ 1999 Big 12 championship team. After Schwartz earned his degree in speech communication studies from Texas in 1999, Barnes appointed Schwartz to a graduate assistant position, which he held from 1999-2001.
Schwartz also boasts valuable experience with USA Basketball, having served in a support capacity for the 2000 USA Youth Development Festival, the 2000 USA National Select Team—coached by Mike Jarvis and Bob Huggins and featuring future NBA stars Shane Battier and Jason Richardson—and the 2001 Young Men’s World Championship Trials.
The Schwartz File
Full Name: Michael Leon Schwartz
Born: Sept. 25, 1976, in Los Angeles, Calif.
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Alma Mater: Texas, ’99
High School: Beverly Hills High School
Children: Sydney and Samantha
2019-present: Tennessee, associate head coach
2016-19: Tennessee, assistant coach
2015-16: Tulsa, assistant coach
2014-15: Fresno State, associate head coach
2011-14: Fresno State, assistant coach
2007-11: Miami (Fla.), assistant coach
2005-07: Miami (Fla.), coordinator of basketball operations
2004-05: Texas-San Antonio, assistant coach
2002-04: Texas, video coordinator
2001-02: Long Beach State, operations/video assistant
1999-2001: Texas, graduate assistant
COURTESY EAST CAROLINA ATHLETICS