It’s a scenario that seems to happen only in Hollywood, but it has now become a reality. The former coach of West Liberty University, Jim Crutchfield, will take on his former team in the NCAA Division II National Championship.
The West Liberty Hilltoppers men’s basketball team is in the NCAA Division II National Championship for the second time in school history after defeating the Black Hills State Yellow Jackets 87-82 on Thursday afternoon
Crutchfield’s current team, the Nova Southeastern University Sharks, defeated the Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes 94-87 Thursday evening.
After the game, Crutchfield said the game vs. West Liberty will be ‘very entertaining.’
The only time West Liberty made the National Championship was in 2014 when they lost to Central Missouri, 84-77. The head coach of that runner-up team was Jim Crutchfield. The assistant coach of that team in 2014 is the current head basketball coach for West Liberty, Ben Howlett.
Crutchfield coached at West Liberty for 13 seasons. From having coached the Hilltoppers since 2004-17, he amassed a career record of 359-61 (.855), which was the highest career winning percentage in college basketball history among all NCAA coaches who had spent at least 10 seasons as an NCAA head coach.
Crutchfield resigned from West Liberty on March 21, 2017, and accepted the head coaching job at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Howlett, who played under Crutchfield from 2005-09, took over head coaching responsibilities at West Liberty on March 28, 2017.
Crutchfield and Nova Southeastern will take on Howlett and the West Liberty Hilltoppers on Saturday, March 25 on WTRF CBS at 3 pm.