Taylor comes to Elon after three years as an assistant coach at the University of Iowa, with previous head coaching experience at Lehigh University, Ball State University and Belmont Abbey College.
The Elon community welcomed Billy Taylor as the 19th head coach of the university’s men’s basketball coach during a news conference in Schar Center on Tuesday, April 19.
Taylor takes the helm of Elon’s program following three years as an assistant coach at the University of Iowa and with 14 years of head coaching under his belt leading programs including Lehigh University and Ball State University. His move to Elon follows a national search that Director of Athletics Dave Blank said repeatedly pointed to Taylor as the best choice for the university and its student-athletes.
“It kept coming back to the same person,” Blank said to the crowd gathered in the Gill Room to welcome Taylor on Tuesday. “He’s the kind of person you want your kids playing for and he’s the kind of person we want our student-athletes at Elon playing for.”
Taylor has been a part of teams, either as a head coach or on the staff, that have advanced to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament seven times. He spent five years as head coach at Lehigh and six seasons as head coach at Ball State as well as three heading the program at Belmont Abbey College. He started his coaching career at the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater where he was a four-year letterwinner on the men’s basketball team.
Taylor told student-athletes, fans, students, staff and faculty on Tuesday that he’s humbled and honored to be tapped for the Elon position. “We have the ability to win here,” Taylor said. “When I stepped foot on campus, I felt it right away.”
Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2004, Taylor led Lehigh to both the regular season and tournament titles in 2004, earning a bid to the NCAA tournament that season. Taylor said he sees the elements in place at Elon that will allow the program to continue to rise in prominence in the years ahead.
“We can win in the Colonial Athletic Association, we can become regionally relevant and we can go on to national prominence,” Taylor said. “We’re ready for that challenge and I know these young men will be ready for that. They have been putting the time in and getting themselves positioned so that we can be something special.
“We don’t want to just build it for one year,” Taylor said. “We want sustained excellence, and we want to pursue that excellence over a long period of time.”
During the past three seasons, Taylor and the Iowa Hawkeyes, led by head coach Fran McCaffery, have been a mainstay in the national rankings and NCAA, including winning the 2022 Big Ten Tournament championship. The team won 26 games in 2022, the second-highest single-season win total in program history. During his time at Iowa, the team was led by two-time national player of the year Luka Garza along with Keegan Murray, a finalist for the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy. Taylor was an assistant coach under McCaffrey at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro from 1999 to 2002.
Part of what attracted Taylor to Elon was the well-rounded and expansive range of experience student-athletes have at the university, what he called “a big picture approach for Elon basketball.” That includes placing an emphasis on academic performance and offering experiences such as internships and study abroad that are not a given for top-tier student-athletes.
Taylor recounted how he spent a summer in an accounting internship when he was a student-athlete at Notre Dame, and the exposure it gave him to the corporate world. Following his graduation with a degree in accounting and computer applications, Taylor earned his CPA license before turning to coaching.
“It’s not just about what we do on the court,” Taylor said. “It’s about when we’re walking through and getting our diplomas, we’re getting internships, we’re having global experiences, we’re having an opportunity to do community service. Those are things that all really matter to me in terms of student-athlete development.”
Taylor and his wife, Avlon, have two daughters, Amia and Gavielle, and a son, Savion, and he thanked his family for their support of him throughout his coaching career, which has often meant moving to a new city every three or four years. He said he’s excited to begin settling into and getting to know the Elon community.
“I see this Elon community coming out and supporting us,” Taylor said. “I know you’ll support our family and make us feel welcome so that we can have a great experience here.”