|North Alabama Lions|
|University||University of North Alabama|
|Head coach||Tony Pujol (1st season)|
|Conference||Atlantic Sun Conference|
|Arena||Flowers Hall |
|Colors||Purple and Gold|
|Conference Tournament Champions|
|Gulf South: 1981, 1984, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2014|
The North Alabama Lions men's basketball team represents University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama, United States. The school's team currently competes in the Atlantic Sun Conference. On July 1, 2018 they joined the Atlantic Sun Conference in all sports, excluding men's football which will compete in the Big South.
The program began in 1932. The program has earned two national championships, made five Final Four appearances and played in nine NCAA championship tournaments.
Eddie Flowers is considered the father of UNA men's basketball. After his arrival at what was then known as Florence State Teachers College in 1929, Flowers initiated the school's athletic program in 1932 and coached the first basketball team that season. Flowers served as basketball coach until 1948 and remained the athletic director until 1972. Flowers Hall, the university's basketball facility, is named after the long-serving coach and athletic administrator.
Flower's successor Ed Billingham coached the team for the next 24 years, winning 249 games. He also led the Lions to the NAIA National Tournament in 1960 and 1962.
Hired as head coach in 1974, Bill L. Jones, a Lion basketball alumnus, led UNA to six NCAA Tournament appearances and four appearances at the Final Four, including an NCAA Division II National Championship in 1979. UNA was the first Alabama college or university to win a national championship title in basketball and is only one of four Division II programs to have earned more than one Division II basketball national championships.
Under Jones' leadership, the Lions secured three Gulf South Conference championships in 1977, 1981, and 1984 and three GSC Tournament Titles in 1981, 1984 and 1988. Jones led UNA to NCAA Tournaments in 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1988, with his teams winning regional crowns in 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1984.
During Jones' tenure, UNA also went to the Final Four in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1984. During Jones' 14-season UNA basketball coaching career, his teams amassed a 165-37 home record at Flowers Hall for an 81.7 winning percentage.
Over the course of his 15-season tenure at UNA, Coach Gary Elliot, secured a 252-140 overall record and a 148-49 home record. He also led the Lions to their second national championship in 1991, as well as to four NCAA appearances in 1991, 1994, 1995, and 1996.
Coach Bobby Champagne, who coached his first season in 2003-04, led the Lions to a 12-16 record, followed by a 14-14 the next season. Champagne, UNA's sixth head basketball coach, has led the Lions to three straight Gulf South Conference tournament appearances and to the program's first NCAA Tournament since 1996. Bobby Champagne enters his ninth season as head men's basketball coach at the University of North Alabama. After taking over the reins in 2003, he has returned the Lion program to a position of national prominence.
Under Champagne, the Lions have advanced to eight straight Gulf South Conference tournaments and two NCAA tournaments, including an NCAA Division II South Regional Championship in the 2007-08 season. He is 130-106 during his tenure at North Alabama.
After finishing the 2007-08 season at 27-8 and re-writing much of the school's record book in the process, the Lions were 18-10 in 2009. Kenny Johnson was named GSC East Player of the Year. The Lions posted back-to-back 13-16 campaigns over the last two years while twice advancing to the semi-finals of the GSC Tournament.
The 44-year-old Champagne, who was honored by the NABC as South Region Coach of the Year in 2008, has been affiliated with 13 postseason tournament teams (nine NCAA, two NIT) during his 23-year collegiate coaching career. He came to UNA after one season as an assistant coach at the University of Texas-El Paso.
In his first season at UNA, Champagne led the Lions to a 12-16 record that also included a berth in the 2004 GSC tournament. The following season, the Lions improved to 14-14, and again were participants in the conference tourney.
During the 2004-05 campaign, UNA knocked off several ranked teams in the regular season, including No. 1 Southern Indiana on Nov. 20 at Flowers Hall. The Lions finished the year with a 14-14 mark. In 2005-06, UNA was 18-11, played in the GSC Tournament and received an NCAA South Regional bid. The NCAA postseason nod was the first for the Lions since 1996 and the eighth for Champagne. The Lions had their second consecutive winning season in 2006-07, going 15-14. After several disappointing seasons Champagne was fired as Men's Basketball Coach.