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Coach Rusty Melvin Retires After Confrontation

Last updated on February 15, 2023

By-Thomas Matchell

Volunteer State Community College men’s basketball coach, Rusty Melvin, retired after an encounter with Vol State’s President, Dr. Orinthia Montague, and Student Services Vice President, Dr. Emily Short, during a game. 

In December, Melvin decided to retire after his encounter during the game against Dyersburg State Community College which was captured in a YouTube video presented by Ball All Day. 
(The confrontation with Montague appears at 40:15. Short talked to Melvin from behind the bench at 38:17.) 

According to Melvin’s Facebook post announcing his retirement, he noted that both Short and Montague, approached him during the Dyersburg State Community College game, and instructed him to play a certain player.  

When asked about their side of Melvin’s retirement decision, Montague replied, “Mr. Melvin retired from the college in December. I wish him well with any future endeavors.” Short also replied, “Coach Melvin served the college for many years and made the decision to retire and I wish him the very best and appreciate his service to the college through the Athletics Department.” 

Kailon Benton-Hamilton, #5, can be seen in the YouTube video reacting to the conflict. 

“By the time the season started, not even just me, a couple of us… [Melvin] wasn’t playing us, and we had gave him his most winning season,” said Benton-Hamilton. “It felt like a slap in the face to us. We felt like something had to be done because most of our opinions was his time coaching had been past, it’s time to go a new direction.” 

“It shouldn’t have gone that far, it shouldn’t have come to that point, you aren’t playing people, all this animosity in the air, it shouldn’t have gone that far, (referring to when Montague confronted Melvin about playing certain players),” said Benton-Hamilton. 

Attempts to reach Melvin were unsuccessful. 

With the retirement of Melvin, a new men’s basketball coach was needed. That is when the women’s head coach, Theotis Key, came in. 

“I think Coach Melvin, he’s done this 42 years, sometimes when you do something for so long you know when it’s time. I had left, I wasn’t in the building when him and the president had their conversation. I think that night he went home and decided he done everything he could at the end of the game, and needed some well-deserved time to himself and his family,” said Key. 

Key has already begun working with players and making changes within the program. 

“I put expectations on them from day one, everything they get it going to be earned and it’s not always gonna be earned on the court, it’s gonna be earned on going to class. It’s gonna be earned by being on time, on how they conduct themselves as a student-athlete, and representing Vol State as a community…. It’s not something that we walked in and said we aren’t happy about this and we’re gonna give it to you, they got expectations and right now they are meeting those,” said Key. 

“Everybody is getting a fair chance to get in the game and play…. He’s seeing how everyone responds in certain situations,” said Benton-Hamilton. 

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