Anthony Stewart, the head men's basketball coach for Tennessee-Martin, died on Sunday, the school announced. He was 50 years old. The cause of death is unknown, and Stewart was getting ready to start his fifth season with the team later the month.
"We are stunned to hear this tragic news," UT Martin athletic director Kurt McGuffin said in a statement. "Coach Stewart was a true leader to every one of the young men he coached. He emphasized the meaning of a college degree and instilled professionalism in each of his student-athletes. We ask for privacy during this difficult time."
Stewart joined the coaching staff in 2014 as the associate head coach under Heath Schroyer. Since then, the Skyhawks have won 94 games, which is the most in any six-year-span in the school's history playing Division I basketball. The team recorded three consecutive 20-year seasons (2014-2017), which is also a first in school history. Stewart took over as the head coach in 2016 and led the team to 22 wins, the most in the program's history in terms of just the regular season. The Skyhawks won the Ohio Valley Conference West division that year and played in the OVC Tournament championship game.
"What I will remember most about Coach Stewart was his focus in developing our young men to be leaders in their community, leaders in the workforce and leaders in their homes," UT Martin Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver said. "He always stressed the development of the entire person, well beyond athletics." Before joining the UT Martin staff, Stewart spent time as an assistant coach at Ohio University (2012-14), Southern Illinois University (2011-12), University of Wyoming (2007-11), Long Beach State University (2004-06) and Columbus State Community College (2001-04). He played college basketball and baseball at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in business management in 1993. He also earned his Master's degree in business administration from Chancellor University in Cleveland Ohio in 2006.
Parker Stewart, one of Stewart's three children, played for his father last season after transferring from Pittsburgh. He finished the 2019-2020 season averaging 19.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. His work on the court led to him being named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference Second Team.