Two Big Ten coaches & a BIG EAST coach part ways; new faces are sworn in at Big Ten, ACC, and America East schools
Archie Miller, who went 67-56 in his four seasons at Indiana, was relieved of his duties on Monday. PIC: Getty Images
While March brings celebration, hope, and Cinderella stories, it also leaves a slew of coaches losing their jobs in its wake Monday was no exception, as some high-profile programs parted ways with their leaders. On the contrary, others were chosen to fill the voids of their predecessors - some to be the face of change, others to guide the team through rebuilding scenarios. Let's take a look at the Goners & Newcomers in the college basketball world.
Archie Miller out at Indiana
Many Hoosiers fans were excited to see Archie Miller take over Tom Crean's spot in 2017 - he had taken Dayton to four straight NCAA Tournaments, including a run in the Elite 8 in 2014. But overall, it was a tough stint in Bloomington for Miller, who finished a mediocre 67-56, and 33-43 against Big Ten opponents. Indiana quite obviously has a rich history of success, and wildly successful coaches along the way; Bob Knight, Kelvin Sampson, and Mike Davis all achieved some degree of victory. For Athletic Director Scott Dolson, that won't fly: "I have high expectations for our program, and we have not competed at a level within the conference or nationally that I believe we should." Dolson was disappointed enough to offer a $10 million buyout for Miller, financed through "private philanthropic funding." It could most certainly take on a variety of meanings...a booster? Alumnus? We may never know.
Richard Pitino out at Minnesota
No, not that one. Relax, people.
Richard Pitino, the son of Iona's Rick Pitino, spent 8 seasons at the helm of the Golden Gophers. It's certainly reasonable to say that Pitino's time at Minnesota was filled with inconsistent performances, but the highs outnumber the lows: in his first year leading the charge, Pitino led the Gophers to the 2014 NIT Championship. They made the NCAA tournament two other times in his eight-year stint and played to three 20-win seasons. Overall, his 43-87 record against Big Ten opponents wasn't enough for Minnesota to justify keeping him around to see his ninth year. Even if he takes some time off from coaching, Pitino shouldn't have a hard time finding employment whenever he decides to hop back into the game...sources say he's the favorite to land the New Mexico job already.
Dave Leitao out at DePaul
There is no denying Dave Leitao's resume and accomplishments over his long career in basketball. He was Jim Calhoun's right-hand man at both Northeastern and Connecticut for ten years and finally got the nod at DePaul in 2002 for his first stint as the Blue Demons head coach. Leitao went onto Virginia, where he led the Hoos to a second-round appearance in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. After resigning in 2009, Leitao served as the head coach of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Developmental League and an assistant at both Mizzou and Tulsa. DePaul brought him back in 2015, in hopes he'd be able to steer the program in the right direction after Oliver Purnell led the Demons to five straight losing seasons. Instead of pioneering its return, Leitao presided at the helm of a DePaul group that only had one winning season in his six-year stint. Despite a contract extension last year, Leitao and DePaul mutually agreed to part ways after a fifth-straight last-place finish. Dave Leitao, now 60, could be in the market for some mid- or low-major jobs, but don't expect for him to jump at anything that's less than a perfect fit with high upside - not a lot of those jobs exist.
After 2 stints as the DePaul head coach, Dave Leitao is out in Chicago. PIC: Chicago Sun-Times
Earl Grant hired at Boston College
When Jim Christian was fired in February, the speculation on his replacement at Boston College started immediately. Mark Schmidt, who graduated from BC in 1980 and has done wonders for the St. Bonaventure program, was thought to be the leading name - he'd be able to return to his home state and alma mater, and likely take some recruits with him. Cleveland State's Dennis Gates, whose wife is the Senior Woman Administrator at BC, also would've been a logical fit. But instead, the Eagles tabbed Earl Grant, who's spent the last seven seasons leading the way at College of Charleston. Despite a rough start, Grant righted the ship and led the Cougars to two straight postseason tournaments - one NIT appearance and one ticket to the Big Dance in 2018. Some really liked the Grant hire, who'd be a refreshing face in a program that hasn't had much success of late. Others, like Jeff Goodman, wholeheartedly disagreed.
Someone might have to tell Goodman that a coach with "no New York ties" is doing pretty well at St. John's...
Dwayne Killings hired at Albany
It truly was only a matter of time before Dwayne Killings earned himself a head coaching job. As Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski divulges, “Dwayne is the total package. He knows basketball, is incredibly organized and thoughtful and is as good at building authentic relationships as I have been around.” Killings, who walked-on at UMass, immediately built up his resume with coordinator stints at the Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA D-League, and Temple. In the college coaching world, Killings earned spots on the Boston University and Connecticut staff, before being tabbed by Marquette. He made an immediate impact as one of the creators of Coaches for Action, a partnership of 21 BIG EAST coaches “to generate sustainable action plans to eliminate prejudice, discrimination, and oppression against people of color.” One thing is clear: Dwayne Killings is a leader, and he's going to get his shot at an Albany program that has a vacancy in the leadership arena; it's hard not to root for him.
Former UMass walk-on Dwayne Killings returns to the east coast to lead the Albany Great Danes - a quick trip up I-90 West. PIC: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Micah Shrewsberry hired at Penn State
We love a good Penn State rumor - from Jim Ferry being hired as head coach from interim status, to James Jones from Yale making the trek to State College, the line was out the door for the Nittany Lions job. But after all the names had been accounted for, the pundits managed to forget about Purdue assistant Micah Shrewsberry, whose diverse experience might have been the most desirable on the short-list. Shrewsberry is a longtime wingman for Brad Stevens - he coached with him at Butler and followed him to the Boston Celtics for six years. His experience at Purdue under Matt Painter has only made him a more favorable candidate to provide direction to a Penn State team that has been plagued with the Pat Chambers scandal over the past year.