Howard University’s women’s basketball squad had its best season in a long time last year, thanks to the addition of second-year head coach Niki-Reid Geckeler.

The Bison are now hoping for the same results with their men’s basketball team as they announced the hiring of new head coach Kevin Nickelberry.

A native of Washington, D.C., Nickelberry’s resume proves he may be the perfect man to rebuild Howard’s struggling basketball program. As an assistant coach, he helped lead UNC Charlotte and Clemson to four postseason appearances, and was also head coach of Hampton from 2006 through 2008 and head coach of the Libya National team in 2009. The 20-year coaching vet was close to signing a deal to become an assistant coach for either DePaul University of University of Hawaii, but accepted Howard’s offer instead.

“We are pleased to have a coach with the distinguished career and success of Kevin Nickelberry lead our men’s basketball program,” said Charles Gibbs, director of athletics.

“This is an exciting day, not only for Howard University, but for our alumni and loyal supporters. We look toward the future under Coach Nickelberry’s direction as we take the steps necessary to propel our program to a new era of excellence.”

During his three-year stint with Hampton, Nickelberry helped guide the Pirates to 20 non-conference wins and a total of 49 Division I wins, which ranks second among all Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference schools. He hopes to have even more success at Howard.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me to be able to return to the sidelines at Howard because of its rich tradition, heritage and a strong academic dimension,” Nickelberry said, who served as an assistant coach for Howard during the mid-1990s. “It’s a job that I have always kept an eye on. My parents went to Howard.

It’s a job that is passionate to me and I look forward to getting to know each of the players, building a staff and making sure that we put things in motion for the upcoming academic year.”

Nickelberry, 45, first began coaching in 1991 as the head women’s basketball coach at Columbia Union College. In 20 years of coaching, he has worked in all areas including recruiting, fundraising, marketing and public relations. He has developed into one of the better talent recruiters in the business and will now use his skills and resources to help change the environment of a basketball team that recorded five consecutive losing seasons under former coach Gil Jackson.

“Everywhere I have gone I have learned from some great program builders,” Nickelberry told the media. “I want to change the mentality here. Play hard every play, and do it the right way and build a program. There is a Howard brand out there in everything but sports and we need to change that.”