Eastern Kentucky Colonels

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: ASUN Conference
Past Conferences: Ohio Valley Conference, Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

City: Richmond, Kentucky


Arena: Alumni Coliseum


NCAA Tournaments: 8 (1953, 1959, 1965, 1972, 1979, 2005, 2007, 2014) 


National Championships – 0

Conference Titles – 6 (1953, 1959, 1961, 1965, 1972, 1979)

Team History

Eastern Kentucky started playing basketball in the 1909-10 season under coach Clyde H. Wilson. Even though the team went 3-2 in its first year, its level of competition wasn’t the strongest. One of those two losses was a 60-11 setback to Lexington High School. Fortunately, the team got better over the years, and, by the time the 1930s rolled around, the team was winning more often than not in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Eastern Kentucky advanced to the NAIA Tournament in 1945 and 1946, but became a Division I school in 1948 when it was one of the founding members of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Colonels were strong from the start, winning the conference tournament in 1950 and the regular season title in 1953, earning the team’s first berth to the NCAA Tournament. Eastern Kentucky also qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 1959, 1965, 1972 and 1979. Getting to the tournament wasn’t a problem for the Colonels. Winning a game, was, however; Eastern Kentucky is 0-8 all-time in the Big Dance.

After Eastern Kentucky’s appearance in the 1979 NCAA Tournament, the Colonels fell on some hard times, turning in 11 straight losing seasons between 1993-94 and 2003-04. The Colonels bounced back in a big way, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and 2007. Eastern Kentucky was invited to play in the CBI in 2010 and the CIT in 2013. 

The Colonels were back in the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and returned to the CIT in 2015, where the squad advanced to the quarterfinals. Before the start of the 2021-22 season, Eastern Kentucky switched conferences and joined the ASUN. 

All-Time Records 

  • Points Scored
    • Nick Mayo, 2,316
    • Matt Witt, 1,832
    • Mike Rose, 1,763


  • Rebounds
    • Mike Smith, 977
    • Jim Baechtold, 933
    • Garfield Smith, 884


  • Assists
    • Bruce Jones, 699
    • Matt Witt, 630
    • John DeCamillis, 381



When Did Eastern Kentucky Teams Become the Colonels?

Eastern Kentucky University athletic teams were known as the Maroons until 1966. In 1963, EKU President Robert Martin was at a loss as to how he could create a physical “Maroon” to excite the audience. Martin began searching for a mascot and chose the Colonel.


How Many Eastern Kentucky Players Have Played in the NBA?

EKU has sent seven players to the NBA. The most successful was Arnie Risen, who played for the Rochester Royals and the Boston Celtics between 1948 and 1958. A four-time NBA All-Star, Risen averaged 11.98 points and 9.73 rebounds over his career. A two-time NBA champion, Risen was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998.


How Many Times Has Eastern Kentucky Been Ranked?

EKU has been ranked by the Associated Press in three different seasons and has spent a total of six weeks in the polls. Eastern Kentucky was ranked once in 1948-49 and 1951-52. The team spent four weeks in the 1952-53 poll, falling out after the seventh poll of the year but returning for Weeks 11 and 12. The highest EKU was ranked is No. 15. 

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