Happy Osborne, who piled up 456 victories over the past 15 seasons as coach of the Georgetown College men's basketball program, is the new associate head coach at Tennessee Tech.
Osborne decided Saturday morning to take the job and resigned from Georgetown.
"Difficult decision, no doubt," Osborne said when reached by phone. "I probably changed my mind 100 times. I love Central Kentucky. I love Georgetown. ... Being part of Georgetown College has been, obviously, the best experience of my life."
In 15 seasons, Osborne compiled a 456-81 record, won an NAIA national title in 1998, and led the Tigers to two NAIA finals and four Fab Fours, including this year's.
Georgetown won 12 of 15 Mid-South Conference regular-season titles during Osborne's tenure, along with nine MSC Tournament titles.
A six-time MSC Coach of the Year, Osborne averaged 30.4 wins a season. He reached the 100- and 400-victory milestones in fewer games than any college coach, feats that he said came because "we've had tremendous kids."
Before becoming head coach, he served as assistant to the late Jim Reid. In all, Osborne was on the Tigers bench for 31 seasons.
"When you think of a Georgetown College ambassador, you think of Happy Osborne," President William H. Crouch Jr., said in a release issued by the school. "His success is unparalleled within collegiate basketball circles. He will be greatly missed. The (Bob) Davis-Reid-Osborne coaching legacy has built an NAIA basketball powerhouse. We are dedicated to continuing this rich tradition."
In April, Georgetown was reported to have sent a letter of membership interest to the NCAA, inquiring about Division III status — one of many steps the college has taken in pursuit of gaining status in the prestigious academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
If Georgetown joins NCAA Division III, it will no longer be able to offer scholarships for athletics.
Osborne, 53, wouldn't say that is what led to his decision to leave, but he did note that Georgetown holds the record for NAIA national tournament appearances and victories, "and I'm hoping that tradition will be continued."
"Bill Crouch gave me an opportunity here," Osborne said. "He didn't have to do that. I'll always owe him for that. Obviously, Georgetown has looked at making some changes. I hope that that doesn't happen, and I feel good that whatever direction they decide that they'll do the right thing.
"Georgetown has a tremendous tradition. Bob Davis, Jim Reid — both in the Kentucky Hall of Fame. It doesn't get better than that. I want Georgetown basketball to be great. I want Georgetown College to be great."
At Tech, Osborne will be working under one of his former assistants, Steve Payne, who was promoted from assistant after Mike Sutton resigned because of health reasons.
"Hopefully, I'll be involved in all aspects," Osborne said. "He's one of the best friends I've ever had in my life. He's going to do a fantastic job there. ... Georgetown's going to always be in me, and I'm hoping that those same things will happen at Tech because I'm going to put my heart and soul into Tennessee Tech, just like I put my heart and soul into Georgetown."
Will it be strange to work for one of his former aides?
"When Steve was here, he thought I worked for him anyway," Osborne quipped.
Payne was with Osborne from 1996 through 2000, winning 128 games that included a national title.
"I think we think alike, but it's Steve Payne's show, and I'm working for Steve Payne and Tennessee Tech," Osborne said.
Crouch said "we will seek the next great coach to assure Georgetown College basketball reflects the institutional mission to make a difference in the lives of our students."
Osborne would like to see the next coach come from within the family.
"Both of my assistants, Chris Briggs and Andre Mahorn, are more than qualified," he said. "They're the guys that have recruited the current players."
The Tigers are scheduled to open their season Oct. 27 against Temple Baptist.