After serving the last four months in an interim role, Frankie DeBusk has been named the permanent Director of Athletics at Tusculum College announced interim president Dr. Russell Nichols.
DeBusk, who also just completed his 10th season as head coach of the Pioneer football program, has been leading the College’s athletic department since August, following the resignation of Ed Hoffmeyer.
During his brief tenure, of the six Tusculum teams that competed for South Atlantic Conference championships in the fall, four finished in the top half of the league standings, including the men’s soccer team that claimed a share of the SAC Championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament for a third straight time.
The women’s soccer program finished fourth in the league, but gained the top ranking in the NCAA Southeast Region, punching its ticket for the NCAA postseason for a third straight time and fourth in the last five years. The Pioneers finished with a 15-7 worksheet and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for a second consecutive season.
The Tusculum volleyball team enjoyed its best season since becoming a NCAA II member in 1998 as the Pioneers went 25-10 and finished second in the conference. TC had its first Division II All-American in Vivian Lacy, who was also named the SAC Volleyball Player of the Year.
On the gridiron, DeBusk rallied the Pioneers from a 0-3 start to win six of their last eight games to finish third in the SAC. The 6-5 record gives Tusculum its seventh winning season in the last eight years.
“Frankie DeBusk has proven himself not only as an excellent coach, but also a fine interim Athletic Director,” said Nichols. “He has the respect and admiration not only of the athletics staff, but also his colleagues across the College and in the community. The excellence he has demonstrated in his interim role made it easy to take the next step and offer him the permanent position. I am very pleased that he has chosen to accept that invitation.”
The Pioneers have also enjoyed numerous individual achievements under DeBusk’s watch. Twenty-one (21) student-athletes have earned All-Conference honors, while five have received All-Region distinction so far.
Tusculum student-athletes have also shined in the classroom, with three Pioneers earning the SAC Scholar-Athlete Award for the sports of football, women’s soccer and volleyball. This marks the third straight year that a Tusculum football player has earned this prestigious honor and fifth in the last six seasons. Eight Tusculum athletes have also been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
“I would like to thank Dr. Nichols and the Board of Trustees for their vote of confidence in myself and our athletic department for this opportunity,” said DeBusk. “Tusculum College and the Greeneville community has been very supportive of our efforts over the years and I’m very proud to serve as athletic director. I also wish to thank my fellow coaches, staff and especially our student-athletes who have worked so hard both on the field and in the classroom. I’m very proud to be associated with such fine people.”
The winningest football coach in school history, DeBusk has posted a 59-48 record and has the sixth most victories in South Atlantic Conference history. Over the past eight seasons, TC has posted a 52-33 mark including a 9-2 tally sheet in 2003, while claiming the program’s first ever South Atlantic Conference Championship. From 2000-05, the Pioneers recorded five consecutive winning seasons, a first in school history.
In 2001, the Pioneers posted an 8-2 record as that squad tied for second place in the conference and finished ranked 21st in the nation. That team also went undefeated at home (6-0) for the first time in the modern era of football at Tusculum. The .800 winning percentage made TC the second winningest gridiron squad of the 19 four-year institutions that sponsor football in the state of Tennessee in 2001. Only the University of Tennessee (11-2/.846) had a better season.
DeBusk’s 2000 club posted the fifth-best win-improvement in the country by going from 2-9 in 1999 to 7-4 a year later.
In 1998, the energetic DeBusk took over a program that won only three games in its two previous seasons, becoming the third gridiron skipper since the program’s reinstatement in 1991.
In 10 seasons, his teams have rewritten the Tusculum record book by equaling or establishing over 100 team and individual marks. Since joining the South Atlantic Conference in 1999, 57 players have earned All-Conference recognition, including 21 All-Region honorees and 12 All-Americans. Since his arrival at Tusculum, 24 players have continued their playing career at the professional ranks, including 2003 consensus All-American cornerback Ricardo Colclough. Colclough was the 38th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004, becoming the highest drafted player in South Atlantic Conference history. Colclough became the third player in the history of the South Atlantic Conference to earn a Super Bowl ring as the Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Colclough is currently playing with the Cleveland Browns.
In 2006, DeBusk mentored Glen Black, who became the first football Academic All-American® in school history. Black also became Tusculum’s first male recipient of the prestigious South Atlantic Conference President’s Award, which recognizes the top student-athlete in the league. Black also became only the second football player to earn this honor in the 17-year history of the award.
DeBusk came to the Greeneville campus after five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Chattanooga. DeBusk, a 1991 Furman University graduate, established 11 school records at quarterback for the Paladins, while compiling an impressive 31-6 record. In 1988, DeBusk led Furman to a 13-2 mark while capturing the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship. His collegiate career also included three Southern Conference titles and three trips to the NCAA I-AA playoffs. He ended his playing career holding school records with 6,726 total yards, including 5,851 yards passing. He was also responsible for 55 touchdowns (38 passing, 17 rushing). For his efforts, he was honored as Southern Conference Player of the Year in 1990. He also earned All-SoCon accolades in his final two collegiate campaigns. In 1998, DeBusk was inducted into the Furman Athletic Hall of Fame.
Following graduation, DeBusk joined the Furman coaching staff as a graduate assistant coach in 1991 and was a restricted earnings assistant coach at his alma mater in 1992. The Paladins went 13-9 during that two-year span.
DeBusk stayed within the league as he joined the Chattanooga staff in 1993 where he worked with the Moc receivers and quarterbacks for four seasons, before assuming the role of offensive coordinator in 1997. The Mocs posted their most successful season since 1991, with a 7-4 tally sheet in 1997. He also coached current Dallas Cowboys’ standout Terrell Owens, while at the Chattanooga school.
DeBusk was a two-sport star at Greeneville High School, where he guided the Greene Devils to TSSAA playoff appearances on the gridiron as well as a guard on the basketball hardwood.
He is not the first member of the DeBusk family to garner the TC black and orange. His brother, Doug, was a Tusculum Hall of Fame point guard for the Pioneer basketball team from 1991-95.
In 2003, DeBusk was the recipient of the prestigious Art Argauer Award, which is presented to the Tusculum coach of the year as selected by his peers.
Frankie DeBusk is married to the former Jennifer Coffey of Bristol, Tenn. They are the proud parents of their six-year-old son, Ty.
Tusculum offers athletic opportunities in 14 sports including: baseball, basketball (men/women), cross country (men/women), football, golf (men/women), soccer (men/women), women’s softball, tennis (men/women) and women’s volleyball.