JMU’s Kenny Brooks interviews for Virginia Tech’s opening

brooksVirginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock has turned to a fellow James Madison University graduate as he searches for a new women’s basketball coach.

James Madison women’s basketball coach Kenny Brooks interviewed at Virginia Tech on Friday and planned to spend the night in Blacksburg, JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne said Friday.

Bourne said Babcock called him earlier in the week to get permission to speak to Brooks. Babcock fired Dennis Wolff on Tuesday, ending Wolff’s five-year reign as the Hokies women’s coach.

Bourne said Brooks informed him on Thursday that he would be interviewing for the Virginia Tech job.

Babcock and Brooks both graduated from JMU in 1992. Brooks was on the JMU men’s basketball team — he was a guard for legendary coach Lefty Driesell — while Babcock was on the JMU baseball team.

Brooks, 47, has guided the Dukes to 337 wins — the most in their history. He has steered JMU to six NCAA tournament berths and five WNIT appearances in his 14 years at the helm of his alma mater.

JMU was the only Virginia team to make the NCAA women’s basketball tournament this year. It was JMU’s third straight NCAA appearance. The 11th-seeded Dukes lost to sixth-seeded DePaul in the first round.

The Dukes went 27-6 overall and 17-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association this year. They won the CAA regular-season title for the fourth time under Brooks and claimed the CAA tournament for the fifth time under Brooks. He was named the CAA coach of the year for the fourth time. It was the 11th straight year that JMU won at least 24 games.

Brooks, who has coached two WNBA draft picks, entered this season ranked No. 22 among active Division I women’s basketball coaches in wins.

In the 2014 NCAA tournament, the 11th-seeded Dukes upset sixth-seeded Gonzaga in the first round.

During the 2014-15 season, the Dukes were ranked in both the Associated Press Top 25 poll and in the USA Today coaches Top 25 poll.

Brooks began his coaching career on the men’s side. The Waynesboro native was a part-time men’s assistant at JMU in the 1993-94 season before leaving for a full-time assistant job at VMI. He was an assistant for Bart Bellairs for four years at VMI before returning to JMU as a full-time men’s assistant in 1998.

He left the JMU men’s staff to become a JMU women’s assistant prior to the 2002-03 season. Brooks referred to the switch as a “leap of faith” in a 2007 interview with The Roanoke Times.

He was promoted to interim women’s head coach in December 2002, when then-coach Bud Childers took a leave of absence for medical reasons. Brooks had the interim tag removed in March 2003.

“Now I don’t even watch men’s games (on TV),” Brooks told The Roanoke Times in 2007. “I’ve enjoyed my switch and it’s something I wish I would have done earlier. This is my niche.”

In January 2007, Brooks’ team cracked the AP Top 25 for the first time in 16 seasons. Later that season, JMU received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament — its first NCAA bid in 11 years.

Brooks and his wife have four children, including a daughter, Kendyl, who has committed to JMU to play basketball.