The day ‘Tyndall Town’ came crashing down
Former Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall speaks to Matt Bingaya during a game in the 2013-2014 season. The men’s basketball program is under NCAA invesitgation for giving “Prop” 48” recruits improper benefits during Tyndall’s tenure.
Two years ago at Southern Miss, Donnie Tyndall had the utmost support from everyone on campus. No matter if people were wearing ‘Tyndall Town’ shirts or setting record attendance numbers, he was a Hattiesburg celebrity. Then, the stars came crashing down when the NCAA stepped in and conducted an investigation that still haunts USM to this day.
The NCAA handed down their Notice of Allegations, written to President Rodney Bennett on July 22. There was a total of seven violations; four of them were Level I. The charges included deletion of e-mails, breach of representations and warranties and impermissible financial aid, among others.
On April 22, 2014, Tyndall left the bright lights of Hattiesburg for the University of Tennessee, but he only lasted one season. Due to the NCAA’s investigation back in November, Tyndall was fired on March 27, just over two weeks after the season ended.
Through all of the controversy behind Donnie Tyndall, he has been a successful coach everywhere he’s been.
His first head coaching gig came at St. Catharine College in Kentucky where he led the Patriots to a 30-5 record in just his first season.
After St. Catharine, Tyndall made some coaching stops at LSU, Tennessee State, Idaho and Morehead State.
With his teams, he generally played a zone scheme, similar to the Louisville system. Whether it meant he had guards defend 94-feet or he ball pressured the three point line, he always had a knack for getting the best from his defense.
Shortly after the stint with Morehead State where he won the NABC coach of the year, Tyndall was hired as the 19th head coach in Southern Miss history.
In his first year, Tyndall guided the youngest team in the country to a 27-10 record, the most wins in a single season in school history. The next season, Tyndall led the Golden Eagles to a 29-7 record, finishing first in Conference USA and going to the NIT Quarterfinals.
He then jumped ship to coach the Volunteers and his team went 16-16 and 7-11 in the Southeastern Conference. The season actually exceeded expectations, as the media selected Tennessee to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the SEC. This was Tyndall’s last stop in basketball, but he set his sights on other endeavors.
One of his latest stints in his tumultuous career in the public eye included a professional wrestling debut. Tyndall did not lay his hands on the mat himself, because he was the manager of the Heavenly Bodies tag team – a wrestling team based out of Knoxville, Tennessee.
One of Tyndall’s biggest supporters through all of the drama has been his older daughter, Taylor Tyndall.
Tyndall attributes most of his successes to his daughter giving him advice. During his lone season at Tennessee, the investigation was being conducted here in Hattiesburg.
When the news broke that he was fired at Tennessee, his daughter was devastated.
“You just crumble,” Tyndall said. “Having her find out that way was sickening. Her mom told me she just collapsed bawling.”
His basketball-related activities now include consulting in Orlando for the NBA Summer League, where he worked with the Detroit Pistons.
“I am a grunt guy who just worked his way to the top,”
Tyndall said. “You have to get back on your feet and turn over every rock.”
Now Tyndall continues to search for his next stop. Whether it is a head coaching gig or as part of the media world, he will have a trail of crumbs behind him.
Those crumbs are still littered throughout the basketball program at USM as the program may have to vacate wins from Tyndall’s tenure as well as losing scholarships moving forward.