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Amherst College men’s basketball coach Dave Hixon takes leave of absence; Aaron Toomey takes reins

  • Amherst College men’s basketball coach Dave Hixon talks with his team during a time against Nichols during the NCAA Division III Tournament third round, last season. Hixon has taken a leave of absence from the program for this season. COURTESY CLARUS STUDIOS INC./AMHERST COLLEGE

  • Amherst College men’s basketball head coach Dave Hixon, center, and assistant coach Aaron Toomey, right, head to the bench prior to Amherst’s season opener against Framingham State, last season. Hixon has taken a leave of absence from the program for this season and Toomey has been named interim head coach. CLARUS STUDIOS INC./AMHERST COLLEGE

Published: 9/16/2019 7:15:45 PM

Amherst College men’s basketball head coach David Hixon is taking a leave of absence from the program for the 2019-20 season.

Hixon has coached the team for 42 seasons and has 826 career wins. Last season, the Mammoths went 25-5, their 28th straight winning season.

Hixon told that he plans to spend time with his family as well as catch up with former players.

“I’m extremely blessed to have the opportunity to take a sabbatical year at this point in my career,” Hixon told “The opportunity to see various NBA teams, a few D-I programs as well as having time to take care of some important personal matters. ... To help limit speculation 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.”

Hixon led Amherst to two NCAA national championships (2007, 2013) and is a two-time National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National and four-time NABC Northeast Region Coach of the Year.

“Having dedicated the last 42 uninterrupted years to Amherst College basketball, Coach Hixon will use this break to spend time with his father and reconnect with former players still involved in all levels of the game,” Amherst College Director of Athletics Don Faulstick said in a statement. “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.”

Toomey, who has been an assistant for the last four seasons, will serve as interim head coach.

“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.”

Toomey played for Hixon from 2010-14 and finished his career as the most prolific scorer in Amherst College history. He is the only player to score more than 2,000 career points (2,033) and also holds the school records for career 3-pointers made (291) and free-throws made (606).

Toomey was the national player of the year when the Mammoths won the national title in 2013.

“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to be the interim coach this season,” Toomey said in a statement. “I am incredibly thankful for those who supported me and trusted me to take over this team. We have an incredible group of guys and I can’t wait to get to work with them on November 1st.”

After a brief professional career in Europe, Toomey returned to Amherst and joined Hixon’s coaching staff midway through the 2014-15 season. He worked his way into the top assistant spot and last year coached the Mammoths to a victory over Williams College when Hixon was away from the team after the death of his mother.

Last year, Toomey was named to the NABC Under Armour 30-Under-30 Team, representing 30 of the most outstanding men’s college basketball coaches under the age of 30.

“I’d specifically like to thank Coach Hixon for everything he has taught me throughout the past nine years here at Amherst,” Toomey said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. He will certainly be missed this year, but I am extremely excited about what our staff can do with this group of guys.”

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