Sean Burdette | Head Coach
On Jan. 18, 2018, Sean Burdette was named the ninth head coach in University of Memphis volleyball program history. Burdette comes to the Bluff City from his head coach position at Green Bay, where he guided the Phoenix the last four seasons (2014-17). Prior to his time at Green Bay, Burdette served as an assistant coach for the Ole Miss volleyball program from 2011-13.
"First, I want to thank Director of Athletics Tom Bowen, Search Chair and Deputy Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt, and committee members Courtney Vinson, Associate Athletics Director/Sport Services and Senior Women's Administrator, and Dwight Boyd, Assistant Athletics Director/Community Relations, for this incredible opportunity to lead the University of Memphis Tigers volleyball program.
"Additionally, I would like to thank my wonderful wife, Jacqueline, and our three daughters, Brinley, Carlyn and Chase for their unwavering support in this decision and moving back to the Mid-South.
"From my first conversations with the committee, I could see and share their vision for and commitment to the student-athletes. When the administration laid out the future plans for volleyball, it fell directly in line with what I was looking for in a program, and also goes hand-in-hand with the values in which I want to run our program.
"The rich history of the city of Memphis, the prestige and nationally-ranked academic programs of the University, and the commitment to having a championship experience are what makes the University of Memphis an ideal destination for future Tigers. I cannot wait to hit the ground running, start working with our incredible student-athletes and building a championship program. This is a great day to be a Tiger!"
In his four seasons at Green Bay, Burdette produced a remarkable turnaround. He took over the program in 2014 and won only five matches that first season. However, two seasons later, Burdette's 2016 squad won 21 matches (21-9 record), placed second in the Horizon League regular-season standings (12-4 conference record) and finished runner-up in the Horizon League Tournament.
The 21 victories were the most since 2003 and the second-most since it moved to NCAA Division I in 1988. The 12 Horizon League wins were a school record. For his efforts, Burdette was named the 2016 Horizon League co-Coach of the Year.
Burdette, though, wasn't a "one-hit" wonder at Green Bay. He directed the Phoenix to a 17-13 record in 2015 – a 12-match improvement from 2014 – and a 17-16 mark in 2017. He is the first head coach in Green Bay volleyball history to have three-straight winning campaigns, and the 55 victories from 2015-17 are the most for a three-year span in program history.
"I'm excited to have Sean join the Memphis Tigers athletics family and take over the reins of our volleyball program," said Bowen. "Sean has a great coaching pedigree and has shown the ability to not only build a program, but also develop student-athletes on and off the court. We welcome Sean and his family to Memphis, and we're looking forward to see the heights the Tigers volleyball program reaches under his direction."
This past season, Burdette's Phoenix posted a 17-16 overall record, but his squad had an impressive postseason. Green Bay, which placed fourth in the Horizon League regular season (9-7 record), put together a run in the conference tournament that took the Phoenix to the title match, where it fell to No. 1 seed Cleveland State.
The Phoenix earned a National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) berth and advanced to the regional finals round (final 8). Green Bay defeated Bowling Green and Illinois State in the first two rounds before falling to TCU in the regional final. The NIVC bid was only the second postseason tournament appearance in program history and the first since 2003.
Burdette's 2015 team went 17-13 and placed fifth in the Horizon League.
From 2014-16, his program improved its RPI by over 170 spots. The 2014 Phoenix RPI was 246, and their 2016 RPI was 75. In 2017, Green Bay had the Horizon League's second-highest RPI at 105 (Cleveland State was 67).
Burdette also has a proven track record in player development. At Green Bay, he coached six All-Horizon League selections, three All-Horizon League Freshman Team picks, the 2015 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year and the 2017 Horizon League Freshman of the Year.
His squads performed well on the court and in the classroom. From 2014-16, his teams maintained a 3.60 or higher grade-point average and earned three-straight American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Awards. Four of Burdette's players also received All-Horizon League Academic Team honors.
Prior to taking over the Green Bay program, Burdette spent three seasons (2011-13) as an assistant coach at Ole Miss. While in Oxford, he helped coach two All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) Freshman Team picks and one AVCA All-America selection. Burdette also helped recruit two of the nation's top-100 players in the Rebels' 2013 signing class.
Burdette had previous coaching stints at Bradley (head coach; 2008-10), Ohio State (assistant coach; 2003-08), Towson (associate head coach; 2000-03) and Pittsburgh (assistant coach; 1997-2000).
He is a 1997 graduate of Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio. Burdette played on the men's volleyball club team at Ohio State University from 1990-93. He helped lead the 1993 Buckeyes squad to Big Ten Conference and Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) championships. Burdette earned both All-Big Ten and All-MIVA first team accolades in 1993.
The Silver Spring, Md., native is married to the former Jacqueline Bunting, and the couple has three daughters: Brinley, Carlyn and Chase.
Burdette takes over the reins of the Memphis program from April Jauregui, who coached the Tigers for 10 seasons from 2008-17.
James Onikeku | Associate Head Coach
College volleyball veteran James "J.O." Onikeku was added to the Tiger volleyball staff in February 2011.
Onikeku, who has over 20 years of collegiate experience as a volleyball assistant and head coach, joins the Tiger staff after a nine-year coaching stint at UT-Chattanooga - his second at the institution. He was elevated to associate head coach prior to the 2005 campaign by former head coach Lisa Rhodes. He served as the Lady Mocs' primary recruiter and had practice, on-court and scouting responsibilities.
"J.O. is an exceptional person and is well regarded in this profession for his character and work ethic," said Jauregui. "I have known James since I started out in this profession, and I have always admired his ability to connect with people. I am very comfortable with him and trust him completely, and that was a big factor in choosing J.O. to become a part of the Tiger family."
While at UTC, Onikeku worked with libero Lara Newberry, who was a two-time National Libero of the Year by Collegiate Volleyball Update from 2007-08 and holds the NCAA single-season and career dig records. He also saw sophomore libero Paula Passmore named the SoCon Libero of the Year following the 2010 campaign. From 2005-10, a Chattanooga libero has paced the Southern Conference in digs per set due to the stellar defense by Newberry and Passmore.
Onikeku began his coaching career at Tennessee Temple University, where he was an assistant from 1989-94. In 1994, the Lagos, Nigeria, native began his first stint at UTC, serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator until 1999. UTC won two Southern Conference regular-season championships (1997-98), three tournament titles (1996-98) and made two NCAA Tournament appearances and an NCAA Play-In Match (1996-98) during his tenure.
In between his two stints with the Mocs, Onikeku was the head coach at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La., from 1999-2002. The Demons won 14 games during the 1999 campaign, which was the most wins in seven seasons for the program. During his three campaigns as head coach, he had the best two-year win total of any Northwestern State volleyball coach and finished with a three-year record of 31-59.
An active member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), Onikeku received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Tennessee Temple in 1990 and earned a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from UTC in 1998.
The son of missionaries Joseph and Grace Onikeku, who moved to America from Nigeria in 1985, J.O. lettered four seasons in soccer and also played on the men's volleyball club team at Tennessee Temple.
Onikeku married the former Katie Perkins in the summer of 2007. The couple has one daughter, Elizabeth Grace.
Marcie Mortimore | Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer
Bio Coming Soon!
Allie McNamara | Student Manager
Bio Coming Soon!