Josh Merkel returned to Salisbury University in 2011 to coach the men’s basketball team.
Now, he’s leaving to return to Randolph-Macon University, where he was an assistant in 2010.
After leading the Sea Gulls this past season to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1997, Merkel is resigning to take the head coaching job at Randolph-Macon in Ashland, Virginia. He will be introduced as the Division III Yellow Jackets’ head coach on Friday at press conference at 4 p.m.
On Wednesday, Randolph Macon identified that Merkel was one of three finalists for the position, along with Sean McAloon of St. John’s College High School in Washington D.C. and Alan Seretti of Dickinson College. Today they announced that Merkel was selected over the other two and would be named the new head coach of the Yellow Jackets.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be the next head coach at Randolph-Macon College,” Merkel said in a press release from Randolph-Macon. “I am humbled and grateful by the faith and confidence that Athletics Director Jeff Burns, President Robert Lindgren and Provost William Franz have placed in me.”
Aside from coaching the Sea Gulls, Merkel graduated from Salisbury 2001. As a player, he averaged 9.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per-game in 98 appearances. He returned years later to accept the Sea Gulls’ head coaching job in 2011 and compiled a 66-41 record in four years.
This past year, Merkel led the Sea Gulls in what was one of their best seasons in nearly two decades. The Sea Gulls captured the Capital Athletic Conference title in 2015 – their first since 1998 – and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament before falling to Trinity College.
“We thank Josh Merkel for his contributions to the men’s basketball program during his time as the head coach,” Salisbury Director of Athletics Dr. Michael Vienna said in a statement. “He has done an outstanding job in leading and mentoring our student-athletes. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
Prior to accepting the head coaching job at Salisbury in 2011, Merkel was an assistant at Randolph Macon under Nathan Davis. That season the Yellow Jackets went 25-5, won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament championship and advanced to the second round of the Division III NCAA tournament.
Davis resigned from his position on April 19 to take the head coaching job at Division I Bucknell University. During his time as head coach since 2009, he posted a record of 141-39, won three conference championships and appeared in six straight NCAA tournaments. This past season, the Yellow Jackets went 28-3 and advanced to the Elite Eight.
The Sea Gulls will now begin their national search for a new head coach.