Nashville Voices: Vanderbilt Basketball’s Kevin Ingram

College basketball in Nashville has always been fantastic, with a rich history of championship teams and deep-rooted rivalries. It was king before Nashville welcomed the Titans and the Preds into town.

Not many know Nashville college sports and college basketball as well as Vanderbilt’s Director of Digital Operations and basketball play-by-play voice Kevin Ingram.

Ingram has covered sports in Nashville for over 20 years, including the Titans historic Super Bowl run, the Predators and notching 17 years as the voice of Belmont men’s basketball.

Kevin Ingram. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

“I think I knew from a young age that it was something I wanted to do,” Ingram shares with The Sports Credential. “I always knew I wanted to announce games and that it was something I wanted to pursue.”

A native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, he has covered almost every team in Nashville since moving here in 1998. His first job was with WSM and WTN as their morning news anchor before becoming their morning sports anchor in early 2000. The first Saturday of the month happened to be the AFC Wild Card game between the Titans and Bills, which would go in NFL history as the Music City Miracle game. That was Ingram’s first experience covering sports in the Nashville.

Ingram went on to cover the Titans historic run to the Super Bowl, which they ultimately lost in dramatic fashion and was an experience he would never forget.

“It’s funny because it was at the end of 1999 and I was ready to maybe try something else or go back to Bowling Green, but they decided to start the sports anchor job. It all went from there and it has been really great,” he explains.

Ingram dabbled with some Predators coverage with WSM and WTN, covering pre-games and post-games in 2004–the first year the team had ever made the playoffs.

However, over the last 20 years or so, Ingram has solidified himself as one of the best college athletics–especially basketball–play-by-play voices in Nashville, serving as the voice of the Belmont men’s basketball team since 2002, calling OVC football games on Saturdays, and now, Vanderbilt men’s basketball.

Kevin Ingram with Vandy football analyst Norman Jordan. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

“I did the 2002-03 seasons with Belmont and then there was some transition to the radio stations,” Ingram notes. “For a year, I hosted the Predators radio pre-game and missions post-game and that sort of thing. Willie Daunic [the current TV voice of the Preds] did the Belmont games, but after the dust settled, we all ended up working at 104.5 The Zone. Willie and I switched the jobs back and I went back to doing Belmont for the for the 2004-05 season and we went from there.”

He continues, “Around the same time I started at Belmont in 2002, I also started doing sidelines for Vanderbilt football broadcast and did that until 2011. I started doing an OVC Game of the Week on TV and then the SEC Network came along in 2014. Vanderbilt hired me for that and we started doing a lot more games on TV through that.”

At Belmont, Ingram transitioned from the radio voice to the TV voice for home games when the ASUN, and later, the OVC Digital Networks were launched. He saw the program’s exponential growth from ASUN to OVC and from Striplin Gym to the Curb Event Center. Following Rick Byrd‘s career until his retirement in 2019, Ingram was a witness to the change and was part of so many massive Belmont basketball games and moments, including the team’s first NCAA Tournament win in 2019.

“It was crazy when you think about where the program was when I started doing the games in 2002.” Ingram recalls, “If you told me then what that program would become, I’m not sure even the most optimistic person would have believed it. The Curb Event Center was finish in 2003-04, and the transition felt like it sped up after that happened. The real breakthrough, of course, was in 2006 when they won the Atlantic Sun championship, and that classic against Lipscomb in overtime in Johnson City.” He adds, “That was really the breakthrough. They got to the tournament for the first time and they actually ended up winning three-straight tournament titles.

“I think people like Casey Alexander [Belmont’s head coach], Brian Ayers [Belmont’s assistant coach]–and even coach Byrd and those who’ve been around for a long time–think about those years and realize Belmont was not just without a home, but without a conference. To see all this happen and what that program’s become is really amazing,” he admits. “I was so thankful to spend so many years with Coach Byrd. I did 16 seasons with him and the first season with Casey. They’re great friends and wonderful guys.”

Spending 16 years with the same team is a long time, and just like Belmont grew and became better, so did Ingram.

Those years with Belmont helped him grow into a better sportscaster, finding new ways to tell new stories and connect with the audience and fans all over the state and country. Ingram attributes part of his growth to Byrd and his fantastic staff as he learned so much about the game of basketball from them. With that, he was able to bring more to each broadcast and engulf the listeners and viewers in the game.

“I learned a lot about basketball and I learned a lot about broadcasting from them. To get those reps, call those games, have those experiences and travel, I felt like I really grew a lot over that time,” Ingram explains. “It was the same thing doing that OVC football game of the week. I felt like I got quite a bit better at doing play-by-play, especially for TV. With this experience of working with the SEC Network and Vanderbilt, you always feel like you keep growing and learning things. It’s a never-ending process, whether you’re broadcasting, writing or whatever.”

The transition from full-time at Belmont to full-time at Vanderbilt was an emotional one for Ingram. Spending close to 20 years with a program and athletic department is difficult to leave, but he saw the opportunity to join the Commodores as more than a play-by-play voice. Because of that, he knew he couldn’t let it go.

As a top-tier broadcaster, Ingram has learned so much both with Belmont and with Vanderbilt over the years. For him, having conversations and offering more insight for the fans is what he’s learned to do more of, and it’s much more than just calling the game.

“Almost anyone can go look up the game notes, but you want to give the audience more than that,” Ingram sums. “When you’re doing radio, to me, your number one job is to describe the game and make sure people understand the time, score, what’s going on and whatever insight you can offer.”

Pictured (L-R): Vanderbilt football play-by-play voice Andrew Allegretta, Vanderbilt football analyst Norman Jordan and Kevin Ingram. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Even as a veteran pro, Ingram still gets a little nervous before each game. He likes to take a walk around the gym to get in the mindset and also loves watching warm-ups. Before each game, he’ll chat a bit and see what’s new and if there is a little story or piece of information he can use to make the broadcast better.

“No matter how much of this stuff I’ve done or how many games, I’m always nervous. I always have to get the nerves going and the juices flowing a little bit before a game. I like to get up and walk around, I find that helps. I also do a little bit of a warm up, whether it’s out loud or just in my head. I watch the guys warming up and call a little bit of it to get my brain into the flow of calling a game and thinking in the way that I need to be successful.”

Ingram has been a part of so many amazing moments, from the Music City Miracle, countless NCAA Tournament games with Belmont and the 2021 College Baseball World Series with Vandy. There are so many memories and so many more to come.

With Vandy United, Vanderbilt is heading towards a new era and Ingram will be one of the many voices leading the way as the athletic department continues to build and grow.

Nashville sports, both professional and at the collegiate level, has changed so much over the last 20 years and Ingram has had a front row seat to it all. He has become one of the many constants in the world of Music City sports media and its hard to imagine it without him.

College Corner: Belmont Basketball Players Earn MVC Honors, TSU’s Jr. Clay Recognized By OVC

Belmont’s Ben Sheppard Named MVC Player Of The Week After Stellar Performances

Ben Sheppard. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont University men’s basketball senior Ben Sheppard has been named Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Player of the Week after scoring a combined 46 points with 12 rebounds in two games. His huge performances led Belmont to major wins over Murray State and Bradley.

Sheppard had 23 points, six rebounds, three assists and made the game-winning shot with 3.3 seconds left as Belmont won at Bradley to end the team’s 17-game home court win streak–the third-longest in the nation behind Auburn and UCLA. Additionally, Sheppard had 23 points, six rebounds and four assists against Murray State.

The Atlanta, Georgia native ranks among MVC leaders in nine statistical categories, including third in scoring, ninth in assists per game and tenth in steals per game. He has 63 double-figure scoring games and is on the Lou Henson Player of the Year Award Watch List.

 

Belmont’s Madison Bartley Shows Up Big, Earns MVC Player Of the Week

Madison Bartley. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

A key piece to the Belmont University women’s basketball team’s dominant weekend, junior forward Madison Bartley, has been named Missouri Valley Conference Player (MVC) of the Week.

The Kettering, Ohio native averaged 24 points and six rebounds in 23.7 minutes across the two wins. Shooting 60 percent (18-of-30) from the field and going 11-for-12 (.917) at the free-throw line, Bartley notched back-to-back 20-point performances.

In Belmont’s Friday (Jan. 20) night win over Missouri State, Bartley scored 14 of her season-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. She went 8-for-8 at the foul line and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, scoring eight-straight points in the closing minutes to seal the victory. On Sunday (Jan. 22), Bartley was ultra-efficient in the Bruins’ 56-point, 101-45 blowout of Southern Illinois. In only 15:49 of action on the court, she scored 22 points on 9-for-10 shooting and collected four boards.

Bartley earns her second conference player of the week award after being selected as Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week last January. Three different Belmont players have now garnered MVC weekly accolades. Junior guard Destinee Wells was tabbed MVC Player of the Week on Nov. 14 following the first week of the season, and graduate guard Sydni Harvey earned both MVC Player and Newcomer of the Week honors on Dec. 27 after her historic three-point shooting display versus Troy.

 

TSU Graduate Jr. Clay Named OVC Player Of The Week

Jr. Clay. Photo: Courtesy of TSU Athletics

Tennessee State men’s basketball graduate student Jr. Clay was named the OVC Co-Player of the Week after scoring his 2,000th point against Little Rock.

On Saturday (Jan. 21) against Little Rock, Clay dropped 33-points as he broke the 2,000 milestone. The 33 points are the third-most by an OVC player in a game this season. The Chattanooga native scored 28 of those points after halftime and finished the game 11-of-24 from the field and 10-of-11 at the free throw line. He added six assists, four rebounds and a steal.

Clay opened the week with 18 points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal against Eastern Illinois. He hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 42 seconds as the Tigers won by four points.

Clay leads the OVC in scoring (18.9 points/game), is second in assists (4.6/game), fifth in 3-pointers made (2/4/game), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4), and seventh in free throw percentage (80.9 percent). In Conference-only games, Clay is averaging 22.5 points per game.

MTSU Women’s Basketball Ranked No. 23 In ‘AP’ Top 25 Poll

MTSU Lady Raiders. Photo: Courtesy of MTSU Athletics

The Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) women’s basketball team ranked No. 23 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

Winners of their last 14 games, which is the fourth longest active winning streak in the country, the Lady Raiders (16-2, 9-0 C-USA) made it into the top 25 after receiving votes in the last seven AP polls. Middle Tennessee has spent 22 weeks in the AP poll in program history.

Checking in at No. 20 in the NET rankings as of Jan. 22, MTSU leads Conference USA and ranks 11th in the country in scoring margin (19.7). Since the start of conference play, the Lady Raiders have posted a point differential of 20.8.

Earlier this season, the Lady Raiders defeated then-No. 18 Louisville, marking the Lady Raiders’ first win over a ranked opponent since Dec. 28, 2011 when MTSU knocked off No. 6 Kentucky 70-58 at the Murphy Center. It was the 11th win in program history over a ranked team–fourth under head coach Rick Insell–and the sixth ranked win inside of Murphy Center.

The team’s recent performances against the University of Alabama Birmingham, Charlotte and Louisiana State earned Insell an ESPN Women’s Basketball Coach of the Week honor. The Lady Raiders outscored their opponents 209-145.

The national ranking adds to the list of achievements around Middle Tennessee Athletics during 2022-23. Blue Raider men’s tennis was ranked No. 25 team in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Preseason Poll, while the Lady Raiders (No. 18/15 Louisville) and the Blue Raider football team (No. 25 Miami) both knocked off ranked opponents.

Former UConn Husky Katie Lou Samuelson Joins Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball Staff

Katie Lou Samuelson. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Katie Lou Samuelson, one of the most decorated players in recent women’s college basketball history, has joined Vanderbilt’s women’s basketball staff as the program’s Director of Player Development.

“I truly could not be more excited to welcome Katie Lou to our staff,” head coach Shea Ralph says. “Her passion and knowledge for the game of basketball are unmatched. She is one of the hardest-working, most competitive players I have ever coached. She has excelled at every level in our sport, starting with championships in college and now making a name for herself in the WNBA and overseas as a standout professional.” Ralph adds, “She has true life experience in ‘maximizing your potential,’ which is the goal and mission for every person associated with this program.”

As Director of Player Development, Samuelson will assist the women’s basketball staff in a non-coaching capacity in all areas of the program, including game preparation, player development and on-campus recruiting. She will remain an active member of the Los Angeles Sparks during the WNBA season while still performing her duties, and return to Nashville with the Commodores during the WNBA offseason.

Samuelson is about to enter her fifth season in the WNBA after averaging a career-high 9.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game for the Sparks in 2022, her first with the franchise. She scored in double figures in 18 of 32 games, highlighted by a career-best 15 against the Washington Mystics in last August. A first-round draft pick—going fourth overall to the Chicago Sky in 2019—Samuelson has also played for the Dallas Wings and Seattle Storm while also helping lead Perfumerías Avenida to the 2021 Euroleague Final and a Spanish league championship during her professional career.

“Lou is a natural leader and visionary on the court. I have no doubt that she will bring that same level of dedication and intensity to our students-athletes here at Vanderbilt as director of player development,” continues Ralph. “Beyond her basketball ability, she is an amazing person and a great role model. Katie Lou Samuelson’s consistent presence here on and off the court will elevate our program in every way.”

A two-time first-team All-American and the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year in both 2017-18, Samuelson became the 10th student-athlete in Connecticut’s history to record 2,000 points in a career before ending her time with the program fourth on the Huskies’ all-time scoring list. She was named the ESPNW national Freshman of the Year and was selected to the AAC All-Freshman Team in 2016 after helping UConn win the national championship.

Samuelson earned national Player-of-the-Year honors from Gatorade, USA Today, McDonald’s, WBCA and Naismith at the high school level.

Internationally, Samuelson has represented the United States at various competitions dating back to 2013 when she was a was part of a team that claimed the FIBA Americas U16 championship. In 2019, she was a member of the USA FIBA AmeriCup team that won a gold medal, and she was named to the country’s 3×3 Olympic qualifying team in advance of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics but was unable to participate due to illness.

College Corner: Fisk Women’s Gymnastics, Belmont’s Cade Tyson, Vanderbilt Baseball

Fisk Women’s Gymnastics Team Participates In Official NCAA Meet, Makes History

Fisk Women’s Gymnastics Team. Photo: Courtesy of Fisk University

The Inaugural Fisk Women’s Gymnastics Team made history after participating in their first official meet in Las Vegas on Jan. 6-7, becoming the first HBCU women’s gymnastics team to perform at the NCAA level.

The Super 16 event is the largest collegiate gymnastics event showcasing more than 300 collegiate athletes from universities all across the country. Fisk competed in Session No. 1 on Jan. 6 against Washington, Southern Utah and North Carolina.

Fisk finished fourth with an overall score of 186.700. Freshman Morgan Price placed first in the vault with a score of 9.900.

 

Belmont’s Cade Tyson Named MVC Newcomer Of The Week

Cade Tyson. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont men’s basketball freshman Cade Tyson has been named Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Newcomer of the Week. He leads the MVC in scoring among freshmen.

Tyson averaged 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game this past week as Belmont defeated UIC and Missouri State. The Monroe, North Carolina native had a career-high 20 points, three rebounds and two steals against Missouri State. He had eight points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots at UIC.

Belmont returns to game action Tuesday (Jan. 10) at Valparaiso.

Vanderbilt’s Enrique Bradfield Jr., Carter Holton Named Preseason All-Americans

Pictured (top): Enrique Bradfield Jr.; (bottom): Carter Holton. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt baseball standouts, outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. and pitcher Carter Holton, earned preseason All-America recognition from Perfect Game. Bradfield was named to the second team while Holton was named to the third team.

Bradfield was a consensus All-American in his sophomore campaign in 2022. He posted a .317 average with eight home runs and 36 RBIs while leading the SEC, and ranked second nationally in stolen bases, going 46-for-46 on the season. He also led the SEC with five triples and earned first team All-SEC honors.

Holton made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2022. The southpaw earned unanimous Freshman All-American recognition and was Freshman All-SEC. Holton ranked sixth in the SEC with a 3.14 ERA and compiled an 8-4 record with a pair of complete games. His 97 strikeouts were second-most on the team.

The returning duo have also been named Collegiate Baseball preseason All-America.

Vanderbilt opens the 2023 season Feb. 17-19 at the College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas.

Belmont’s Ben Sheppard Named MVC Player Of The Week

Ben Sheppard. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont University men’s basketball senior Ben Sheppard has been named Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Player of the Week, after having brilliant performances against Trevecca Nazarene and MTSU.

Sheppard averaged 24.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game on 58 percent shooting last week. He led the Bruins to a 83-53 win against Trevecca, and hit the buzzer beater at the end of regulation against MTSU, which Belmont would go on to lose.

The Atlanta native scored a season-high 33 points vs. Middle Tennessee, which included eight 3-point field goals and 7-for-7 to open. Sheppard’s eighth 3-pointer was the dramatic shot to force overtime.

Sheppard ranks among MVC leaders in seven statistical categories, including second in points per game (20.6), fifth in field goal percentage (.497), sixth in assists per game (3.6) and eighth in steals per game (1.5).

The senior was school’s top scorer last season and is on the same path this year as he looks to help mentor a lot of young talent at Belmont. He and teammate Drew Friberg, who transferred from Princeton, are the nation’s top 3-point shooting duo (through games played Dec. 11).

Belmont returns to action when they head to Chattanooga on Dec. 18.

Blue Raiders To Celebrate Murphy Center’s 50th Anniversary On Dec. 15

Murphy Center from 1972. Photo: Courtesy of MTSU Athletics

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is celebrating 50 years in the Murphy Center on Thursday, Dec. 15, when the Blue Raiders take on in-state foe Chattanooga at 6 p.m CT.

Fans will be treated to Replica Floor Rally Towels, 50th Anniversary Buttons, and a limited number of commemorative game tickets and souvenir programs, while the Blue Raiders will don throwback uniforms and warmups harking back to styles worn by the 1972-73 Blue Raiders that debuted the Murphy Center. Music throughout the night will focus on the various acts that have performed live in concert in the Glass House.

Members of both the MTSU and Vanderbilt men’s basketball teams that competed in the Murphy Center’s first ever game on Dec. 11, 1972 will be honored, with four of the five starters for the Blue Raiders on that day accompanying that night’s starting five during lineup introductions.

Throughout the first half, individuals essential to the Glass House’s history will be honored, including the late Bubber Murphy the Murphy Center’s namesake; Bill Smotherman, Charlie Pigg, Harold Smith and Jim Simpson, who helped open the doors five decades ago; and the late Monte Hale and Coach Jimmy Earle, who the arena is named after.

Halftime will honor every member of the 1972-1973 MTSU and Vanderbilt men’s basketball teams, as well as their coaches and support staff in attendance. Fans will also see a sneak peak of Inside the Glass House, a documentary on the Murphy Center’s 50th anniversary that will debut after the game’s conclusion later that evening.

The second half will feature highlights of the MTSU track program, including the plethora of athletes who have run on the Murphy Center track over the decades. Sage Glass, the company whose automated tinting glass was installed during the Murphy Center’s Glass Replacement project this summer, will also be recognized, followed by the latest updates on the Build Blue project.

Tickets are still available at a retro throwback price of just $4 in Sections A, J, K, and T.

Former Vandy Star Carolyn Peck To Be Inducted Into Women’s Basketball Hall Of Fame

Carolyn Peck. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Former Vanderbilt women’s basketball player Carolyn Peck is set to be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2023. Selected for inclusion in the class as a coach, she will be honored at the organization’s annual induction ceremony on April 29 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

She was named the Naismith College Coach of the Year and Associated Press College Basketball Coach of the Year, and was also honored as the national Coach of the Year by both the Women’s basketball Coaches Association and United States Basketball Writers Association in 1999 after leading Purdue to the NCAA Tournament championship–still the only national title in the sport for a Big Ten team.

In two seasons, Peck guided the Boilermakers to a 57-11 record overall, including a 26-6 mark in league play. She would go on to coach two seasons with the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle and at the University of Florida from 2002-07, where she helped the Gators to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances.

Peck scored 1,240 points and recorded 679 rebounds during her four-year career with the Commodores from 1985-88, earning induction into Vandy’s Hall of Fame in 2013. She also served on the Dores’ coaching staff as an assistant coach during the 2016-17 and ’17-18 seasons.