LUBBOCK – A working relationship and close friendship between Mark Adams and Rick Cooper that started at Wayland Baptist almost 40 years ago will continue at Texas Tech University.
Cooper – the former WBU basketball player and coach who most recently served as the university’s director of athletics – has been named chief of staff for the Texas Tech men’s basketball program. The hiring was announced by Adams, the new Red Raiders head basketball coach.
“We have developed a lot of trust between each other over the years. We’ve worked together in the past and have a great friendship. He’s someone who understands how to build a great program and work with people,” Adams said of Cooper.
“Rick is a great addition to our program because of his experience and ability to handle anything that comes his way.”
Both Adams and Cooper are former head coaches for the Pioneers. Adams served as head coach, with Cooper as his assistant, for four seasons from 1983-87. They led the Pioneers to their most successful season ever in 1985 when Wayland advanced to the NAIA national championship game where the Pioneers lost on a buzzer-beater in overtime.
After Adams moved on to coach at West Texas A&M, Cooper took over as the Pioneers’ head coach from 1987-93. Cooper then succeeded Adams at WTAMU.
After 20 years with the Buffaloes, Cooper returned to Wayland and served as athletics director for seven years. He had planned for the past several months to retire effective this month, but when the opportunity at Tech presented itself, Cooper decided to delay retirement and again work with Adams.
“I’m thrilled to be a piece of something special that Coach Adams is putting together here,” said Cooper. “I’ve known Coach Adams for a long time and know that he is going to do a great job leading this program. I’m here to help him in the process. I’m a basketball junkie who has coached college basketball almost all of my life.
“This is a great opportunity for me and I can’t wait to help the entire staff as we continue building this program into one of the best in the nation.”
Cooper’s illustrious coaching career at Wayland and WTAMU featured 546 victories. He is the all-time winningest coach in both program’s histories, racking up a 152-47 record at WBU before going 394-195 leading WT.
Cooper coached the Buffs for 20 seasons, winning four Lone Star Conference championships and advancing to 10 NCAA National Tournaments and an Elite Eight appearance. He was selected as the LSC Coach of the Year six times, tabbed as the South Central Region Coach of the Year two times and was the 2011 Clarence Gaines National Division II Coach of the Year.
As an administrator at WBU, Cooper was named 2017-18 Sooner Athletic Conference Athletics Director of the Year.
Before beginning his coaching career, Cooper played at Wayland where he averaged 13.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He ended his WBU playing career having scored 1,209 points, which ranked 14th in program history at the time. Cooper earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree from WBU.
Cooper joins Adams’ staff along with associate head coach Barret Peery, assistants Corey Williams and Talvin Hester, strength & conditioning coach Darby Rich, and director of player development Darryl Dora. Advisor Sean Sutton was retained and remains in the role that he’s worked the past four seasons.
With Adams as assistant coach and defensive specialist, the Red Raiders have qualified for the NCAA Tournament three straight times for the first time in program history, including advancing to the 2018 Elite Eight and 2019 NCAA National Championship Final.