AMHERST — Former Bishop McGuinness basketball standout Aaron Toomey has been named interim head coach at Amherst College, his alma mater.
Toomey, a three-time NCAA Division III All-American and the 2014 national player of the year at that level, takes over for Dave Hixon. After 42 seasons at Amherst, Hixon is taking a sabbatical from the sideline for the 2019-20 season. The Mammoths, who won NCAA Division III championships in 2007 and 2013, went 25-5 last season, posting their 28th consecutive winning record.
Hixon, who has won 826 games at his alma mater, hopes to take the year spending time with his father, Wil, and reconnecting with the game of basketball through Amherst graduates who are in the NBA and at NCAA Division I schools.
"David‘s commitment to family has been consistently reflected in the way he leads his teams, and we are happy he will have this opportunity," athletics director Don Faulstick said in a statement.
"To help limit speculation," Hixon told D3Hoops.com, "I would like to say my health is great and that this is not retirement but a season-long sabbatical leave. I am further blessed to have an assistant like Aaron Toomey who is both ready and capable to coach this team to its potential."
After leading Bishop to the 2009 NCHSAA Class 1-A championship, Toomey played four seasons at Amherst and led the team to two Division III Final Fours and one championship in 2013. He graduated with a degree in English.
After graduating from Amherst, Toomey played professionally for Fuenlabrada in Spain's second division, but a head injury ended his playing career. He returned to Amherst midway through the 2014-15 season and joined the Mammoths' staff. Toomey just completed his fifth season on the Amherst sideline working alongside Hixon, who was his coach.
Toomey is the all-time leading scorer in Amherst history (2,033 points) and holds the school records for free throws made (606) and 3-pointers made (291). The Greensboro native has taken on an increasing role in coaching, including recruiting, film breakdown and practice plans.
On Jan. 16, Toomey took the reins of the team for an enormous Little Three game against Williams College while Hixon was away from the team after the death of his mother. Toomey guided the Mammoths back from an 11-point second-half deficit to a 63-62 win.
"Aaron has a strong understanding of what is expected from an Amherst College basketball team, both from his time as a player and an assistant under David," Faulstick said. "His shift to interim head coach will ensure a smooth transition for the players and the program this season."
In April, Toomey was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches' (NABC) Under Armour 30-Under-30 Team, representing 30 of the most outstanding men's college basketball coaches under the age of 30.
"Being named a member of this year's Under Armour 30-Under-30 team is a great honor," Toomey said at the time. "There are a ton of great young coaches throughout the country at all levels that work incredibly hard to help their programs. To be recognized as one of the 30 this year and be chosen to accept the award in Minneapolis was special."