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Morehead State University announces Kelly Wells (Class of 1995) as Director of Athletics

Kelly WellsMorehead State University and President Jay Morgan are pleased to announce that Kelly Wells, a 19-year veteran of collegiate sports and 1995 graduate of MSU, has been selected to serve as director of athletics.

Wells, a native of Morehead, has spent the last 17 years at the University of Pikeville (UPIKE), serving as head men's basketball coach from 2006 to 2020 and director of athletics from 2018 to present. His accolades at UPIKE are numerous, but returning to his alma mater is an extra special highlight to his successful athletics career.

"Coming home to MSU is a dream come true and an incredible honor," said Wells. "I look forward to serving our university and being a part of Dr. Jay Morgan's team. I am so thankful for my experiences at MSU and look forward to sharing my passion and commitment for the Blue and Gold."

Through his work as athletic director, he led UPIKE athletic programs to new heights. During his tenure, he developed and implemented numerous programs and served in a vast capacity:

  • Led a team of more than 55 staff members and 25 head coaches.
  • Oversaw 24 varsity sports participating in the Mid-South Conference – adding swimming and wrestling programs during his tenure.
  • Partnered with UPIKE leadership on the Bear Mountain Project, a $50 million facility project for outdoor sports.
  • Led efforts to improve and enhance various athletic facilities, including the completion of an indoor hitting/pitching facility and renovations to facilities for football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, and women's soccer.
  • Oversaw the rebranding of UPIKE and UPIKE Athletics.
  • Grew athletics staff with new positions of senior women's administrator and athletic administrative assistant and expanded roles in sports medicine and sports communication.
  • Created and implemented the UPIKE Sports Network – a streaming service for athletic events and coaches' shows.
  • Implemented the UPIKE BEAR Awards – Bears Excellence Achieving Recognition – a student-athlete awards program.
  • Oversaw the implementation of four athletics-focused student organizations, including the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Honest Athletes and BEARS Care.
  • Served the university with roles on UPIKE Executive Staff, Operations Committee and Retention Task Force Committee.

"As MSU moves forward, we are increasing our strength and competitiveness in athletics," said Dr. Morgan. "We are confident that Kelly Wells is ready to lead that charge."

Long before he served as athletic director in Pikeville, he had built a storied career as a hall-of-fame athlete and coach. After completing his time as a Division I athlete at MSU, where he scored more than 450 career points and spent three years as a varsity letter winner on the men's basketball team, Wells began coaching boys' basketball at Marion County High School. After two seasons with the Knights, he went on to eight successful seasons at Mason County High School, where he coached eventual All-American at the University of Tennessee, Chris Lofton and led the Royals to a 2003 state championship.

From Maysville, he spent two seasons at Hawaii Pacific before returning to Eastern Kentucky and joining the staff at the University of Pikeville as head men's basketball coach. He led the Bears to 20-win seasons in 12 out of his 13 years as head coach, a 2011 NAIA National Championship and holds more basketball wins than any coach in UPIKE history with a 333-123 record.

Wells' journey as athletic director will be the next chapter in his long-running MSU story. Morehead, and specifically MSU, has always been home. Growing up in the community, he was a fixture in Rowan County with his parents, Mickey (Class of 1964, 1967) and Doris (Class of 1977, 1986) Wells. His parents held an MSU legacy of their own.
Mickey began a career at MSU as the director of Cooper Hall and later as intramural director before he joined the teaching staff in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. He also made a name for himself in the athletics arena, where he served as the winningest coach in MSU women's basketball history from 1975 to 1984 and was later inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame.

Doris also served at MSU for 27 years as an administrative assistant, where she was well-known and loved across campus. Mickey and Doris passed away in February 2021.

Through his parents' employment at MSU, it's safe to say Wells grew up on campus. From the time he first started dribbling a basketball, he was doing so on the courts of Wetherby and Laughlin long before his college basketball career took him to Johnson Arena. While playing ball at MSU, a women's basketball player caught his eye. The fellow athlete, Shawne Marcum (Class of 1997, 2008, 2022), would later become his wife – quite literally cementing his love story with MSU.

In 2018, his relationship with his alma mater went to the next level when he was inducted into the MSU Alumni Hall of Fame in recognition of his career successes, an experience he shared with Shawne and their two children, Kaylee and Mason.

"Morehead State and its community have been my whole history, and I am so proud to step into this next chapter," shares Wells. "We will be dedicated to building on past successes and growing an amazing future. Let's Fight, Fight, Fight for Morehead!"

Wells will begin his service to MSU Athletics when he steps into his new role on July 1. A press conference introducing him will be held on Monday, June 12, at 2 p.m. in the Academic-Athletic Center. The press conference is open to the public.

For more information, visit MSU Athletics at

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