April 21, 2003
Elon, N.C. – Elon University Director of Athletics Dr. Alan White introduced Ernie Nestor as the institution’s 16th head men’s basketball coach Monday morning in a press conference at the Woods Center on the Elon campus.
Nestor was a long-time assistant coach at Wake Forest University, including an eight-year stint under head coach Dave Odom, and recently completed his second season as an assistant for Odom on the University of South Carolina staff this past winter. Nestor, 56, has been in college coaching since 1976 and will enter his 28th season when he directs the Phoenix this fall.
“We are excited to have Ernie Nestor as our head men’s basketball coach,” said White. “He is a very knowledgeable, experienced coach, which is what we felt we needed as we head into our new Southern Conference affiliation. Coach Nestor understands our university mission and possesses the personal values and character that make him a good fit for our program and our university. We look forward to our work together.”
Nestor’s total time at Wake Forest lasted 14 seasons over two separate terms (1979-1985, 1993-2001). He spent his last eight campaigns on the Demon Deacon staff under Odom, helping the team to postseason appearances in all eight of his years there. In his time from 1993-2001, Wake Forest captured the 1995 and 1996 ACC championships, advanced to the 1996 NCAA regional final and claimed the 2000 NIT championship. Also in 1996, Nestor served as the head coach of the U.S. Jones Cup Team in Taiwan.
A 1968 graduate of Alderson-Broaddus College in his hometown of Philippi, WV, Nestor also was an assistant coach under Carl Tacy for six years (1979-1985) at Wake Forest, ironically replacing Odom, who had left to take over the helm at East Carolina. Five Wake Forest teams earned postseason bids in those six years, including three NCAA invitations. The Demon Deacons logged over 20 victories in four consecutive seasons, advancing to the championship game of the 1984 NCAA Midwest Regional.
Prior to his second stint with Wake Forest, he served George Mason University as its head coach for five years (1988-1993), leading the Patriots to their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in 1989. That squad won the Colonial Athletic Association title and finished the year 20-11 with the 1990 squad also reaching the 20-victory plateau. He resigned after five years and a 68-81 record at George Mason to join Odom on the staff at Wake Forest in 1994.
Nestor also has assistant coaching experience at James Madison University (1976-79) and University of California (1985-88), the latter where he worked under head coach Lou Campanelli, with whom he had served at James Madison. After three years of rebuilding the California program into a Pac-10 contender, he earned the opportunity to become the head coach at George Mason and quickly guided the Patriots to unprecedented success.
Nestor opened his coaching career with stints as an assistant at Ravenswood (WV) High School (1968-69) and as the head coach at John Bassett (VA) High School (1969-1976). Nestor earned his master’s degree from West Virginia University in 1970. He is a 1964 graduate of Philip Barbour High School. Nestor, and his wife, Janet, have two married daughters, Stephanie and Jennifer, and are the proud grandparents of Stephanie’s children, Kodiak and Lucy.
“I am very excited for sure,” said Nestor. “The challenge is great and I am pleased to be coming to Elon. It’s a great opportunity for me to be a part of this move to the Southern Conference, which is a very challenging league. We have to compete and excel and plan our level of work to meet the challenge ahead. Those are the goals of college basketball.”
This fall, Nestor will lead Elon into its first Southern Conference campaign and 95th season overall. He inherits 10 returning lettermen – including three starters – from last season’s 12-15 flock of Phoenix, which finished 8-6 on the program’s final Big South Conference schedule to snag a share of second place.
In men’s basketball, Elon will be a member of the Southern Conference’s North Division along with Appalachian State, Chattanooga, East Tennessee State, UNC Greensboro and Western Carolina. College of Charleston, The Citadel, Davidson, Furman, Georgia Southern and Wofford occupy the South Division.