Larry Brown steps down as head coach of SMU

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
3 Comments

Larry Brown has stepped down as the head coach of SMU after leading the program back into the national spotlight the past four seasons.

The 75-year-old Brown is leaving the Mustangs over a contract dispute in which he wanted a longer extension than the program wanted to give him. Associate head coach Tim Jankovich, a former head coach at Illinois State who left that job to work for Brown, will take over as head coach at SMU. Jankovich coached the Mustangs for nine games last season — all wins — as Brown served a nine-game suspension due to NCAA violations.

Brown told ESPN’s Andy Katz that his health is fine, but the contract dispute is what ultimately forced him to leave. “I’ve got nothing else to say right now. I have to text the parents of my players,” Brown said to Katz.

Taking over at SMU in 2012, Brown took the program to national prominence after his surprising hire as he had an overall record of 94-39 in three seasons. Brown’s tenure included an NIT appearance in his second season and a heartbreaking loss to UCLA in the opening round of the 2015 NCAA tournament.

But Brown’s tenure at SMU will also be remembered for scandal — something that has somewhat defined Brown’s legacy in the eyes of some. The NCAA ruled the Mustangs ineligible for the postseason in 2015-16 after it was determined that Keith Frazier, a prized McDonald’s All-American recruit, had coursework done for him by SMU basketball staff. The Mustangs were tremendously talented last season, but had to watch the postseason from home despite a 25-5 record.

It doesn’t help that Brown has earned a reputation around basketball as a coach who is always looking for a better opportunity as he’s left jobs before his contract was finished multiple times.

Plenty of people will define Brown’s tenure at SMU by that scandal, but he also helped SMU become a national power and filled a brand-new stadium with a newly-rabid fanbase. At 75 years old, it’s likely we’ll never see Brown as a head coach again and it was an interesting three-year run at SMU that helped legitimize a program that hadn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1993.

Also a head coach at UCLA and Kansas at the college level, Brown won a national title with the Jayhawks in 1988, only to immediately leave for the San Antonio Spurs.

Known by many for his NBA accomplishments, Brown also coached the Detroit Pistons to the NBA championship in 2004 while also making stops with the Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats.

Brown remains the only basketball coach to ever win an NBA title and national championship as a head coach. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.