Kelly Wells will be pulling double duty at the University of Pikeville.
The former Mason County coach was named the school’s athletic director on Thursday. He’ll also continue in his role as head coach of the men’s basketball program.
“The passion and pride of Bear Nation continues to rise,” said Wells in the release. “I will work with our great coaches and staff to have an impact on the lives of our student-athletes and build upon our past successes to achieve new heights. My family and I look forward to continuing to serve as ambassadors for this great institution and community.”
Wells will take over the position officially on July 1, according to the release. He’ll take over for Robert Staggs, who will take on a role in external relations and continue to coach the softball team.
“The university expresses our deepest gratitude to Robert Staggs for his years of service to the athletic department as athletic director and softball coach,” said UPIKE president Burton J. Webb in the release. “We are pleased by his decision to continue coaching softball as he takes on several new responsibilities in external relations. We are equally pleased that Kelly Wells, who has more basketball wins than any coach in UPIKE history, has accepted this new role as athletic director. Kelly’s skills and dispositions fit his new role well and we look forward to great days ahead.”
Wells is entering his 13th season as the head coach of the Bears. He’s compiled a 287-102 record with Pikeville and won the NAIA National Championship in 2011. He’s also won four Mid-South Conference titles and coached 23 All-Americans.
He spent eight seasons as Mason County’s coach from 1997-2004. Under Wells, the Royals claimed their first title in 2003 and finished runner-up in 2004. Wells was named coach of the year after both seasons.
Wells coached at Marion County high school from 1995-1997. He spent one season coaching at Hawaii Pacific University in the 2005-2006 season before taking over in Pikeville.
In addition to the numerous players he’s coached, there have been a number of coaches that have found success with Wells. According to a story on the UPIKE website in May, there are 21 coaches that will be on the sideline entering the 2018-2019 season that got their start with Wells.
“As a coach – a basketball coach – you’re coaching student athletes. As an athletic director, you’re mentoring coaches. Mentoring people is a big piece of what I enjoy about coaching,” said Wells in a phone interview on Friday.
The University of Pikeville offers 22 varsity sports, which could be a daunting task to take on while also coaching a basketball team that’s consistently contending for titles, but Wells isn’t concerned – he just knows it’ll take thorough planning and a great staff to continue to improve.
He’s also had experience wearing multiple hats. He was the assistant athletic director at Hawaii Pacific, was a classroom teacher at Mason County and has had similar roles throughout his career.
Wells, who was in roughly his 15th hour of making the transition to the new position at the time of the phone interview, isn’t completely sure where his new position would lead his career. He’s had two kidney transplants – one in 2004 and one in 2014 – and he and his wife, Shawne, also have two young children, Kaylee and Mason.
“There’s three things that could happen in the year’s time. One is I could feel comfortable doing both for a long time, one is I’d transition to being the athletic director, or just transition to being a basketball coach again. After that 12-month period I’ll have a better understanding of what it’ll look like,” said Wells.
“Basketball is a huge piece of who I am,” added Wells. “That’s not going to change no matter the job I have.”
Even while pulling double duty, his expectations for his team won’t be any different. The Bears went 28-5 last season and lost in the first round of the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship.
“Our goals never change. Our goal is to win a national championship, win our conference,” said Wells. “As long as I’m in charge as athletic director and coach, our goal is to win national championships, along with graduating student athletes and to gets folks to the highest level we can possibly get them.”