Marshall introduces Jackson as 30th head coach

Published 12:23 am Friday, April 5, 2024

Oak Hill (W.Va.) native and former Marshall standout Corneilius Jackson (center) was formally introduced as the 30th Thundering Herd head basketball coach on Wednesday by Marshall president Brad D. Smith (left) and Marshall Director of Athletics Christian Spears. (Photo Courtesy of the Marshall University Athletic Communications)


Marshall Athletics

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Cornelius Jackson was introduced as the 30th Head Coach in Marshall Men’s Basketball history on Wednesday morning during a press conference at Cam Henderson Center.

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In front of a crowd of nearly 300 people, Jackson spoke about taking over the program – a dream of his since his playing days for the Thundering Herd from 1998-2001.

“Wow! Dreams do come true. They do come true!” Jackson said. “This is a moment that I’ve dreamt of since I was a 19-year-old kid sitting in Twin Towers East. Now, I have the honor to stand before you as the head coach of Marshall University’s basketball team. How about that?”

Donning a green jacket on the stage in front of friends and family – some of which had traveled from as far as Alabama and North Carolina for the moment, the Oak Hill native fought back tears as he thanked those who have impacted him in his journey from standout high school player to collegiate captain to assistant coach and now to head coach of the Thundering Herd.

Jackson’s emotional speech gave proper insight as to what makes him the right fit to lead the Thundering Herd. He has four passions in his life: family, faith, basketball and Marshall University.

“Today marks an exciting moment – not just for me, but for my entire family, the university and the community,” Jackson said. “I want to express my gratitude to President Brad Smith, Christian Spears, the Board of Governors and everyone else involved in the decision-making process for entrusting me with this tremendous opportunity.”

Jackson said he stood on the shoulders of giants who helped him ascend to the level he officially attained in his new position as the leader of Marshall Men’s Basketball, and he thanked all of those giants: West Virginia State coach Bryan Poore for giving him his first job in coaching, former UT-Martin head coach Jason James for giving him his first Division I coaching job, former Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters for making him a better coach and person.

And, of course, there was also former Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni, whom he asked those in attendance to give a round of applause for.

“I want to thank Coach D’Antoni for believing in me and trusting me,” Jackson said. “Coach has a saying, and anyone who knows Coach D’Antoni knows it’s up in the office. It’s a sign that says, ‘It’s not where you go in life, but it’s who you travel with.’ These past seven years, I’ve been lucky enough to travel with the best. Thanks for the ride, coach! Your legacy will always inspire us. You changed Marshall basketball for the better.”

Fittingly, it is the same message D’Antoni referenced in his message to his Marshall family as Jackson was introduced on Wednesday.

“Herd family, my message to our team is a quote from a Snoopy comic strip: ‘It’s not the destination; it’s who you are riding with,’” D’Antoni said.

“I want to thank the many players, staff and Herd faithful for the wonderful ride you gave me. My hope is that I gave you some memories that make you smile along the way.

“My car is not pulling out of Huntington and I hope to see you as we support Marshall, the Tri-State, West Virginia and, of course, our new head coach. I’m so proud of Corny! He’s going to be great for our Thundering Herd!”

Jackson starred for Oak Hill H.S. before going to Tennessee and later returning to Marshall from 1998-2001 where he was a team captain and one of only five players in Marshall history to average 10 points and 5.0 assists per game for their career.

After coaching stints at West Virginia State (2003-09), UT-Martin (2010-12) and Cleveland State (2013-17), Jackson returned to the Herd sidelines under D’Antoni for the 2017-18 season – a historic year for the Herd in which the team won the Conference USA Championship and also secured the team’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory over Wichita State.

Jackson was later named as the Associate Head Coach and Coach-In-Waiting in June 2023.