Written by Burke Olsen
BUENA VISTA, Va.—Richard G. Whitehead, acting president of Southern Virginia University, today announced that Tony Caputo will coach the men's basketball team at the USCAA national tournament in Uniontown, Pa., next week as the Knights defend their 2011 title.
Brian Pendleton, who coached the men's basketball team for four winning seasons resigned as head coach this week. He had previously planned to resign following the national tournament, but after a meeting with players and considering his own health he decided it was in the best interest of the team for him to step down immediately.
After undergoing surgery in December 2010 to replace a damaged hip joint, Pendleton suffered a series of strokes causing him to temporarily lose his power of speech. He subsequently regained his ability to speak and went on to coach the Knights to their first-ever national championship in men's basketball. The team's 15-10 regular-season record this year enables them to return to the national tournament for a chance to defend their title.
Pendleton remains a member of the athletics staff and a German instructor at Southern Virginia.
Caputo, who has assisted during all four of Pendleton's seasons, has been an assistant men's basketball coach for 12 years, and also coaches men's soccer and tennis at Southern Virginia.
Southern Virginia University Athletic Director Rick Winters says the university has not yet determined whether or when it would commence a search for a new head coach.
Pendleton, who went 72-39 (.649) during his four seasons with men's basketball, steps down as the Knights' all-time winningest coach and is the only coach in the program's 14-year history with a career winning percentage above .500.
Last year, Pendleton led Southern Virginia to single-season records for total wins (24) and winning percentage (.750). This year, he helped men's basketball to a perfect 10-0 record at home as the Knights increased their university-record home-winning streak to 20 games.
Men's basketball will begin its title defense in Uniontown, Pa., on Wednesday, Mar. 7, against Oakwood University at 3:15 p.m.