USF’s newly introduced coach earns Hugh Durham Award after leading Kennesaw State to conference regular season and tournament titles and the program’s first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament berth
TAMPA, March 30, 2023 – Nearly simultaneously as he was being introduced as the 11th head men’s basketball coach in University of South Florida history on Thursday, Amir Abdur-Rahim was also adding another honor to his trophy cabinet as CollegeInsider.com named him the winner of the 2023 Hugh Durham Award as the nation’s top Division I mid-major coach in college basketball.
Abdur-Rahim was selected for the honor over coaches Rick Pitino (Iona), Bob Richey (Furman), Mark Madsen (Utah Valley), Speedy Claxton (Hofstra), Pat Kelsey (Charleston), Bob Marlin (Louisiana), Paul Mills (Oral Roberts) and others among a list of 20 finalists.
Abdur-Rahim led Kennesaw State to a school-record 26-9 record, ASUN Conference regular season and tournament titles and the program’s first-ever Division I NCAA Tournament berth in 2022-23. The Owls were picked to finish eighth in the ASUN, but posted 15-3 conference record to claim the ASUN regular season crown. KSU’s 15 league wins were five more than the program’s previous record of 10, while the Owls tied for fourth in the nation with 10 road wins (10-6), four more than the 2016-17 team’s program-record road mark of 6-13.
The Owls set a record as the fastest team to ever reach the NCAA Tournament after a one-win campaign, taking just three seasons. The 14th-seeded Owls took No. 3-seed Xavier to the limit in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, nearly pulling off the first-round upset in what was a one-point game in the final seconds before eventually falling 72-67.
“Amir Abur-Rahim has built a program that will compete for a long time,” said Angela Lento, Vice President of CollegeInsider.com. “Not only has he done it with a little old school flavor of discipline and high accountability, but he also has relevance with his players. They will tell you that their head coach is cool. Kennesaw State has gone from off the map to an attractive destination for players. What a season.”
The Hugh Durham award is named in honor of the former Florida State, Georgia and Jacksonville head coach. In eight seasons as at Jacksonville University, Durham became the Dolphins’ all-time winningest Division I coach (106 wins), making him the only coach in NCAA history to be the winningest coach (pct. or wins) at three different Division I schools.
He built national programs at Florida State where he holds the record for best winning percentage with a 230-95 (.708) record in 12 years. And at Georgia where he is also the all- time winningest coach in the 99-year history of the Bulldog program, having won 297 games in 17 seasons.
Durham coached Florida State and Georgia to a combined 8 NCAA Tournament appearances, and 2 Final Fours. He is one of 17 coaches to take multiple teams to the Final Four.
About USF Athletics
USF Athletics currently sponsors 19 varsity men’s and women’s teams that compete in 11 different sports, 18 at the NCAA Division I level in the American Athletic Conference, which will expand to 21 teams with the recently announced additions of women’s lacrosse (2024-25) and women’s beach volleyball. The Bulls’ athletic program began in 1965 and is in its 57th season in 2022-23. Nearly 450 student-athletes train and compete in the athletic district located on the east end of the campus in Tampa, Fla. The Bulls have claimed 26 American Athletic Conference team titles since joining the conference in 2013, including seven trophies in the 2021 calendar year, and own 140 conference titles claimed in 15 sports in department history, led by 20 each for men’s tennis and men’s soccer. USF has claimed 74 men’s conference championships and 64 women’s titles, led by 14 in women’s tennis and 12 in volleyball. The Bulls have posted a combined annual grade-point average over 3.0 for more than eight straight years and have posted a program record of 16 straight semesters with a combined GPA over 3.0 as of the fall of 2022. USF has had over 500 student-athletes earn their degree since 2016-17.
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