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Dale LayerHead Coach
College: Eckerd College ('80)
Start Date: 4/08/2009
Liberty head men's basketball coach Dale Layer became the program's eighth head coach on April 8, 2009, returning to Liberty Mountain after previously serving as an assistant coach for the Flames during the 2007-08 season.
Layer is coming off an unforgettable year with the Flames, leading the program to a third Big South Championship and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Despite beginning the year 0-8 for the first time in program history, the Flames persevered under Layer's guidance, going on an incredible run in the 2013 Big South Championship to punch their ticket to the Big Dance.
Liberty's journey to the NCAA Tournament received national media attention, as the Flames became the second 20-loss team in Division I history to make the field of 68. Layer's squad nearly became the first Liberty team to pick up an NCAA Tournament victory, but were edged by the North Carolina A&T Aggies in the First Four, 73-72 (March 19, 2013).
During the 2010-11 season, Layer became the first Liberty coach to earn Big South Coach of the Year honors, guiding the Flames to a second place finish in the conference standings with a 13-5 Big South play. Liberty's win total among conference opponents set a new standard for most Big South wins in a single season, surpassing the previous mark of 12.
Layer is currently in his third head coaching stint and first since leaving Colorado State in 2007. Layer came to Liberty following a successful run as an assistant coach at BIG EAST member and nationally ranked Marquette in the 2008-09 season, where he worked with the guards. Layer helped the Eagles to a 25-10 record and a second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament despite lacking the full-time services of All-American Dominic James, who was injured near the end of the season.
Layer first served as an assistant at Liberty during the 2007-08 season, helping the Flames to their best regular-season finish since winning the 2004 Big South Championship.
Layer has also demonstrated the ability to develop a player's talent, including former Colorado State center Jason Smith. The seven-footer scored over 1,500 points for Layer's Rams during his three seasons with the program, before entering the NBA Draft following his junior campaign. Due to his development under Layer's tutelage, Smith was chosen with the 20th selection of the NBA Draft's first round by the Miami Heat in 2007. His rights were later traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. When Smith graduated from high school, he was ranked as the 276th best player in his class and in three seasons under Layer, he developed into the 20th selection in the NBA Draft. In addition, several of Layer's recruiting classes at Colorado State were ranked among the top 40 nationally by various recruiting publications.
Layer has a career 333-261 record (20 years) as a head coach, including nine seasons at the helm of Queens in Charlotte, N.C. He also served as the athletics director while at the school and started the basketball program in 1989 from scratch at the formerly all women's institution. Layer's student-athletes have excelled in the classroom, too. In Layer's 20 seasons as a head coach, he has accompanied 51 seniors to be honored on senior night, and all 51 earned a college degree, a 100 percent graduation rate of all players who finish their eligibility.
After graduating from Eckerd in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1980, Layer started his coaching career as an assistant under Jim Harley, his former coach. Before moving on to Queens, Layer spent seven of the next eight years at Eckerd except for the 1982-83 season, when he was an assistant at Eastern Kentucky.
Layer made the jump to Division I in 1998 when Ritchie McKay took the head coaching job at Colorado State and named him to his staff. During McKay's two seasons with the Rams, Layer helped lead Colorado State to the NIT Tournament in 1999, where they beat Mississippi State and Colorado, before falling to eventual champion, California.
While with the Rams, Layer had a 103-106 record, including a 17-13 mark in 2007. In 2003, Layer led Colorado State to the Mountain West Conference Championship and its first NCAA Tournament bid in 13 years, falling to Duke in the first round.
Among Layer's accomplishments, he also holds a place in two collegiate Hall of Fames. On May 12, 2011, he was inducted into the Eckerd Hall of Fame, where he still holds the basketball program's single-season assist record. Layer is also a member of the Queens University Hall of Fame, receiving the nod at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season.
Layer and his wife, the former Brenda Peterson, have three children: Valerie (29), Tim (26) and Ethan (20).
The Layer File
Year at Liberty: Sixth
High School: Buchholz, Gainesville, Fla.
College: Eckerd, 1978-1980
Eastern Kentucky, 1982-83
Education: Bachelor's of arts in psychology (Eckerd College, ‘80); Master's of arts in counseling (Eastern Kentucky, '83)
2009-Present (Fifth year) – Liberty – Head Coach
2008-09 – (One year) – Marquette – Assistant Coach
2007-08 – (One year) – Liberty – Assistant Coach
2000-07 – (Seven years) – Colorado State – Head Coach
1998-00 – (Two years) – Colorado State – Assistant Coach
1989-98 – (Nine years) – Queens – Head Coach
1983-88 – (Five years) – Eckerd – Assistant Coach
1982-83 -- (One year) – Eastern Kentucky – Graduate Assistant
1980-82 – (Two years) – Eckerd – Assistant Coach
Hometown: Gainesville, Fla.
Children: Valerie (29), Tim (26) and Ethan (20)