The University of Tennessee at Martin is saddened to announce the passing of Anthony Stewart, who was slated to begin his fifth season as the Skyhawks’ head men’s basketball coach later this month. He was 50 years old.
“We are stunned to hear this tragic news,” Skyhawk athletic director Kurt McGuffin said. “Coach Stewart was a true leader to every one of the young men he coached. He emphasized the meaning of a college degree and instilled professionalism in each of his student-athletes. We ask for privacy during this difficult time.”
Stewart joined the UT Martin program as the associate head coach under Heath Schroyer in 2014. Since that time, the Skyhawks have compiled 94 victories – which are the most in any six-year span in the school’s Division I Era (since 1992). That includes three 20-win campaigns from 2014-17, which was the first time a UT Martin team had won at least 20 games in three consecutive seasons.
In his debut season as a collegiate head coach (2016-17), Stewart guided the Skyhawks to 22 victories – which equaled the school record for most wins in a single season. UT Martin won its first-ever outright Ohio Valley Conference West division championship and advanced to the OVC Tournament championship game for the second consecutive year. The Skyhawks’ 14 home wins were the most for the program since 1987-88 and their 10 nonconference victories were tied for the most in school history.
For his efforts, Stewart was selected as one of 21 finalists for the 2017 Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year Award, presented annually to the nation’s top Division I minority head coach. His 22 wins were the third-highest total of the 29 first-year head coaches in Division I basketball.
During Stewart’s time at UT Martin, he had taken part in several high-profile speaking engagements. He was one of 20 keynote speakers at the 2018 Collegiate Coaching Consortium at the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. He also annually represented the Skyhawks at the American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs. Cancer Tennessee Tip-Off Reception in Nashville. In January of 2019, Stewart was the keynote speaker at UT Martin’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast event held on campus.
“What I will remember most about Coach Stewart was his focus in developing our young men to be leaders in their community, leaders in the workforce and leaders in their homes,” UT Martin Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver said. “He always stressed the development of the entire person, well beyond athletics.”
Stewart was a private business entrepreneur for many years before getting into coaching. He also spent time as an assistant coach at Ohio University (2012-14), Southern Illinois University (2011-12), University of Wyoming (2007-11), Long Beach State University (2004-06) and Columbus State Community College (2001-04) before joining the Skyhawks.
An Akron, Ohio native, Stewart played collegiate basketball and baseball at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio. He graduated from Mount Union with a bachelor’s degree in business management in 1993 before completing his master’s degree in business administration from Chancellor University in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2006.