Western Kentucky promoting Hank Plona to Head Men's Basketball Coach

On3 imageby:Tyler Thompson04/02/24


Yesterday, Western Kentucky head men’s basketball coach Steve Lutz left Bowling Green to take the job at Oklahoma State. Less than 24 hours later, the Hilltoppers have zeroed in on his replacement and they didn’t look far. According to multiple reports, Western Kentucky will promote assistant Hank Plona to head coach.

Plona joined Lutz’s staff in 2023 after eight seasons as the head coach at Indian Hills Community College. He led the Warriors to a 225-35 (.865) record, seven NJCAA National Tournament appearances, eight consecutive ICCAC regular-season titles, six postseason conference titles, and four district championships. During his eight-year tenure, Plona coached 11 All-Americans and 58 of his players went on to play Division I basketball, nearly 20 of which are still playing professionally.

Western Kentucky went 22-21 in the 2023-24 season, winning the Conference USA Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. The Hilltoppers fell to No. 2 seed Marquette in the first round 87-69. Last season was Lutz’s first at Western Kentucky. Now, he’ll take over an Oklahoma State program that fired Mike Boynton after seven seasons, during which the Cowboys only made the NCAA Tournament once, in 2021 with Cade Cunningham, who went on to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

UPDATE: 10:30 a.m. ET – Plona’s promotion is now official

Western Kentucky just announced the promotion in a press release. An introductory press conference is set for 11 a.m. CT on Wednesday (April 3) morning inside E.A. Diddle Arena.

“I’m incredibly honored to be chosen as the next head coach at Western Kentucky,” Plona said in the release. “Thank you to Athletic Director Todd Stewart and President Tim Caboni for trusting me with this opportunity. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t thank Steve Lutz for the opportunity to come to WKU a year ago and wish him and his family well at Oklahoma State.

“My staff and I haven’t stopped working since the day we got back from Indianapolis and the NCAA Tournament and we are eager to build upon the success of the 2023-24 season into the future. We will continue working tirelessly on the recruiting trail – both in retaining current Hilltoppers and identifying future ones.

“Our team will continue to be one that you can be proud to cheer for. We will play an exciting, fast-paced style of basketball, we will excel in the classroom and graduate our student-athletes, and we will be active on campus and in the community. Our players will represent WKU and this community with class in everything we do. Go Tops!”

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