Belmont's newest assistant brings head coaching experience to Byrd's bench

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 8:39pm

Mark Price said he couldn’t pass on the opportunity to coach with Rick Byrd. So he decided to move down one title in order to do so.

After two years as head coach of Division II Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) University, Price moved back to the Division I level as an assistant. On Tuesday, Byrd named Price the newest member of Belmont's basketball staff.

Price fills a void created when Roger Idstrom left earlier this month to take the top assistant job at Stetson, where former Belmont assistant Casey Alexander was named the head coach in April.

“I feel like [Byrd] is one of the best coaches in the country,” Price said. “So to have an opportunity to do that is a fantastic learning and growing experience as a coach. ... Hopefully it will make me potentially a more valuable assistant, having been on the head coaching side of it.”

Prior to his time at Ouachita Baptist, Price spent three seasons as an assistant at Furman (S.C.) on the staff of Jeff Jackson, a former Vanderbilt assistant. Price also coached with former Vanderbilt player/coach James Strong, whom Byrd hired last week.

Price was also an assistant coach at Division II Alabama-Huntsville, which reached the NCAA Tournament twice during his five years there. He also spent time at the NAIA level, coaching at Faulkner (Ala.) University and the University of Mobile.

The native of Brandenburg, Ky., graduated from Samford (Ala.) University in 1998.

Byrd’s staff is now complete with Price, Strong and Brian Ayers, who will begin his 14th year at Belmont and has been promoted to associate head coach.

“There aren’t any weaknesses [with Price]. He has pretty much done everything,” Byrd said. “Just like James, it is helpful that he has recruited to schools that have high academic standards. So there is no learning curve there. He fits Belmont. His personality fits Belmont. He fits our players. He is just a solid guy.”