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FAYETTEVILLE — Chris Crutchfield is leaving his position as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Arkansas to become head coach at East Central University, an NCAA Division II program in Ada, Okla.

Crutchfield was announced as ECU’s coach in a news release from the school on Monday. He is leaving Arkansas after one year on Coach Eric Musselman’s staff.

“I think I speak for the entire program by saying how happy we are that Coach Crutch has earned this well-deserved opportunity,” Musselman said in a statement. “Crutch made a positive impact with our student-athletes and we thank him for helping us lay the foundation for a successful future.

“East Central University is getting a high-quality coach and even better mentor to develop young men.”

Crutchfield was an assistant coach at Oklahoma for eight years before Musselman hired him to be on his first Arkansas staff. In a news release Crutchfield thanked ECU President Katricia Pierson and Athletic Director Jeff Williams for offering him the Tigers’ head coaching job.

“My family and I are excited to impact our students-athletes in a positive way while competing for championships,” Crutchfield said. “I can’t wait to develop a relationship with our current student-athletes, alumni and the community of Ada.

“My family and I are looking forward to a successful work-life balance at ECU.”

Crutchfield is replacing Ja Havens, who left ECU to become the coach at Northeastern State University in Enid, Okla. Havens took over for Mark Downey, who left NSU to become the coach at Arkansas Tech University.

ECU is a member of the Great American Conference, which also includes Arkansas Tech, Harding University, Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, Southern Arkansas University and the University of Arkansas-Monticello.

“Numerous highly-qualified coaches expressed interest in this job,” Williams said in a news release. “Our committee is unanimous that Chris Crutchfield is the right fit for our program and 2020 is the right time for him to lead the Tigers forward. Our alumni, fans and campus community will be impressed with Coach Crutchfield as a person and the leadership he will bring to our basketball program.”

Crutchfield, a native of Hopkinsville, Ky., played basketball and football at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and began his coaching career as a football graduate assistant at UNO after being a juvenile probation worker.

Crutchfield’s previous head coaching experience was at Tyler (Texas) Community College for two seasons from 1999-2001. He also was an assistant coach at Texas-San Antonio, New Mexico State, TCU and Oral Roberts University.

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