Longtime Pacific head coach Bob Thomason to retire after next season

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The 2012-2013 season will be the last in Pacific’s tenure in the Big West, as they prepare to move to the West Coast Conference.

It will also be the last season in Bob Thomason’s tenure as the head coach of the Tigers. Thomason has run the program at his alma mater for the past 25 years, but the school announced that he would be retiring after next season.

“I have had an unbelievable experience coaching at Pacific for the past 24 years,” Thomason in a statement. “The players, assistant coaches, administrators, faculty, support staff, boosters, and fans from Stockton have given me great support, and I really appreciate their support. To be able to coach the Tigers for 25 years will be a true pleasure. After next season, it will be the perfect time for me to retire from Pacific. We will have a team that can compete for the Big West Championship, and the team will be even better the following season. It was important for me to leave a good team for the next coaching staff.”

The highlight of Thomason’s program came during the 2004 and 2005 NCAA tournaments, when he led the Tigers to back-to-back first round wins. It was the first and only time that a Big West team has accomplished that feat since 1993. And while he may be best known for sending Michael Olowokandi to the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, he most impressive feat at the school in the 96% graduation rate that Tiger players had under his watch.

Thomason had been criticized in the past year, however. He lost his top ten scorers from the 2011 team, sparking concern over his ability to handle turnover in his program. The 2012 season saw the Tigers lose 20 games. There was speculation that Thomason’s contract wasn’t going to be renewed, which is part of the reason Thomason made this announcement when he did. He didn’t want to become a distraction.

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Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.