CAMPBELLSVILLE - A legendary player for Paintsville High School won’t be returning to coach the Tigers. Keith Adkins, a fixture in Paintsville High School’s athletics history, has turned down an offer to coach his alma mater and will remain as head coach of the Campbellsville University men’s basketball team, CU Athletics Director Rusty Hollingsworth announced Wednesday morning.
With the decision, Campbellsville University also retains Adkins’ wife, Vanessa, who is a three-time Mid-South Conference Cheerleading Coach of the Year, whom has led CU to four MSC titles in six years.
“I am pleased to announce that Keith and Vanessa have decided to stay in Campbellsville and continue to build on the success of their respective programs. I know this was a very tough and emotional decision for them and their family. They love Campbellsville University, but the chance to return home and coach at Keith’s alma mater was very enticing to them,” Hollingsworth said.
“Campbellsville University won big today by keeping these two!”
Adkins is considered one of the Top 5 boys’ basketball players to ever wear a Paintsville Tiger uniform. A three-sport star (basketball, baseball, golf) for the Tigers in the mid-to-late 1980s, he was named the Kentucky Male Athlete of the Year in 1988.
“I’d like to thank Paintsville High School and superintendent Coy Samons for extending me an opportunity to be their boys’ basketball coach. It was a humbling offer, and one that was definitely attractive, mostly because it was home for me. It’s where I played, where my father coached for 35 years and to be perfectly honest, it was intriguing to say the least,” Adkins said. “I don’t think at this point in my career, I would or would have considered any high school position other than Paintsville High School … It being a special place to me is the only reason it earned consideration.”
From 1985 to 1988, Adkins helped lead Paintsville to three state tournament appearances, including a Final Four his junior season in 1987. During the 1987-88 season, the 3-point line was implemented in basketball and Adkins took advantage of it, draining 48 percent of his 258 shots beyond the arc. He led the state in scoring with an average of 32 points per game, and set school records for most points in a game (53) and in a half (30) against Pikeville High. Following the season, he was named a First Team All-State selection and was a member of the Kentucky All-Star Team.
His father, the late Charlie Adkins, was a legendary baseball coach at Paintsville, winning 805 games in 33 seasons as head coach before his retirement in 2005. The elder Adkins led the Paintsville baseball program to the state championship game in 1989 before winning it all in 1990. The Paintsville baseball field is named in his honor. He passed away from cancer in 2010.
“Losing Dad two years ago was difficult. I know he poured his heart and soul into Paintsville High School for 35 years, and it was humbling to even be offered an opportunity to coach at the same place he was so excellent as a coach,” Adkins said. “After the past two years, it really hits home how important family is, and the opportunity to have a chance to spend more time with them would have been nice.”
The opportunity to move, and ultimate decision to stay, weighed heavily on family, Adkins said. It would have placed Adkins in the same community with his entire family and within an hour of Vanessa’s family in Greenup County - creating opportunities for their four children to spend more time with their grandparents.
“This has been one of the most exhausting decisions that Vanessa and I have ever had to make together … But ironically, it’s one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever had to make. After a long discussion with Rusty Hollingsworth, a long conversation with Dr. (Michael V.) Carter and a lot of long conversations with people from here, it was easy to see where we needed to be as a family,” Adkins said. “Paintsville will always be my hometown and where I’m from, but the bottom line is Campbellsville is the only home that we as a family have ever known. It was an easy decision to make staying here and continuing what we started.
“I want to thank Rusty and Dr. Carter for making Vanessa and I feel wanted and needed, and I want to thank them for the roles that they play in my entire family’s lives. This is a special place. I’ve been here for 15 years, and right now, when it comes down to it, I can’t see myself anywhere else.”
Keith Adkins joined the Campbellsville University men’s basketball staff in 1997 as an assistant coach. This fall, he will enter his 13th season as head coach with a program-best win percentage of .594. He is currently 23rd on the NAIA Top 25 active coaches’ wins list with a 234-160 record, including six 20-win seasons and six NAIA Tournament appearances. He led the Tigers to their first-ever Mid-South Conference Tournament championship in 2006 and the program’s first MSC regular season title in 2010.
The Campbellsville men’s basketball team is scheduled to open its season Monday, Oct. 29 with an exhibition at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.