College Basketball’s 2020 Coaching Carousel

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The college basketball coaching carousel is rolling for the 2020 offseason. Keep up to date on the college basketball hot seat and college basketball coaching changes this spring.

To help keep track of all of the movement, CBT has created this page to stay up to speed.

As the offseason continues, and new hires are made, we’ll update this list with every coaching change.

Be sure to follow our Twitter account @CBTonNBC for the latest college basketball news and notes.

THE 2020 COACHING CAROUSEL

High Major College Basketball Coaching Carousel

NONE YET

Mid Major College Basketball Coaching Changes

AIR FORCE

  • OUT: Dave Pilipovich

One of college basketball’s toughest jobs has opened up. Pilipovich spent just over nine seasons with the Falcons, 110-151 record. Air Force only made one CIT appearance during Pilipovich’s tenure — never finishing higher than sixth in conference play.

  • IN: Joe Scott

Air Force went back to Joe Scott as head coach. Scott is a 16-year veteran who previously coached the Falcons from 2000 through 2004. During the 2003-04 season, Scott led Air Force to the NCAA tournament. After the season, Scott departed to coach at Princeton, his alma mater. Scott also spent nine seasons as the head coach at Denver.

ALABAMA STATE

  • OUT: Lewis Jackson

Following 15 seasons at the helm, Lewis Jackson resigned as head coach. An accomplished alum at the school, Jackson made two NCAA tournament appearances and an NIT. But the Hornets haven’t made the postseason since a CIT berth in 2014, struggling to only eight wins in three of the past four seasons.

ALCORN STATE

  • OUT: Montez Robinson

Alcorn State announced they wouldn’t be renewing the contract of head coach Montez Robinson after five seasons. Things appeared promising for Robinson early in his tenure. The Braves had back-to-back second-place finishes in the SWAC and a notable 18-14 finish in 2016-17. Things didn’t sustain, however, as Alcorn State struggled to stay at .500 the next three seasons.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS

  • OUT: Russ Pennell

Pennell took a leave of absence from the program on Dec. 16th, and three weeks later the two sides “agreed to part ways.” UCA was 1-9 on the season when Pennell took his leave of absence. Under interim head coach Anthony Boone, the Bears have gone 9-11 with a 9-10 record in the Southland.

  • IN: Anthony Boone 

The interim tag was lifted from Anthony Boone as he’s the new head coach at UCA. A five-year associate head coach with the program before taking over at midseason in 2019-20, Boone was solid down the stretch. The Bears were 9-13 and a notable 7-3 at home once Boone took over.

EVANSVILLE

  • OUT: Walter McCarty

Just 18 months into his tenure with the Purple Aces, McCarty was placed on administrative leave in December and was eventually fired in January after multiple incidents of what was termed “inappropriate conduct” by McCarty. At the time, Evansville was 9-4 on the season with a win over then-No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena.

  • IN: Todd Lickliter

Lickliter has since been hired as his replacement. He had been the head coach at Butler and Iowa back in the 00’s, and was hired by McCarty as an assistant coach when he got the job. Evansville has lost their last 18 games and became the only team in college basketball history to beat the No. 1 team in the country and go winless in league play in the same season.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN

  • OUT: Mark Byington

Head coach Mark Byington took the James Madison job after a successful seven-year stint. Byington led Georgia Southern to four 20-win seasons and a CBI appearance during his tenure. The past three seasons, the Eagles had 20-win campaigns, so Byington’s consistency will be missed.

  • IN: Brian Burg

Texas Tech assistant coach Brian Burg is taking over at Georgia Southern. Burg spent the past four seasons with the Red Raiders under head coach Chris Beard. Burg also spent time at Campbell, North Carolina Central and Little Rock.

GRAND CANYON

  • OUT: Dan Majerle

To date, Grand Canyon is probably the best job that has opened up during the carousel. He had been the head coach there for seven season, but never won a league title or earned a bid to the tournament. It’s a program that has money, plays in a league that can be won and has a desire to invest in the hoops program. Their homecourt is absolutely electric. Rick Pitino has been a name that has been linked with the job this offseason.

  • IN: Bryce Drew

After taking the year off to do television, Bryce Drew is back on the sidelines. The former Valparaiso and Vanderbilt head coach gets a fresh chance to lead an up-and-coming program. Drew’s energetic presence should fit in nicely at Grand Canyon, a program that’s developed a tremendous homecourt environment  with an underrated fanbase. Drew had success recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans to a place like Vanderbilt. It’ll be fascinating to see the type of talent he can draw to Grand Canyon.

IDAHO

  • OUT: Don Verlin

Verlin was fired over the summer after 11 seasons in Moscow following the disclosure of NCAA violations that were committed during his tenure. Verlin had a 177-176 record as the Idaho head coach.

  • IN: Zac Claus

Claus has acted as the interim coach since the change was made over the summer, and last month he was officially named head coach. The Vandals are 7-22 this season and currently sitting at 3-15 in the Big Sky.

ILLINOIS-CHICAGO

  • OUT: Steve McClain

McClain was let go after five seasons with the Flames. He went 18-17 this season, a disappointing record given the talent he had at his disposal. He had finished above .500 in league play for each of the last three years.

  • IN: Luke Yaklich

UIC made a notable local hire with former Texas and Michigan assistant Luke Yaklich. Credited with being one of college basketball’s up-and-coming assistants, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, Yaklich returns to the Land of Lincoln. Yaklich was a successful high school coach in the Chicagoland area and previously was an assistant at Illinois State as well.

IONA

  • OUT: Tim Cluess

Cluess was one of the best and most consistent mid-major coaches in college basketball, and he opted to step down from Iona due to the health problems that have kept him off of the sideline for much of this season. This is a good job, one that is going to attract some relatively big names. The early favorites for the role are Rick Pitino and former assistant Jared Grasso.

  • IN: Rick Pitino

The most shocking hire of college basketball’s offseason is already done. Rick Pitino is back in the college game. After spending time away from basketball and joining a Greek pro team, the former national champion head coach takes over the Gaels. Pitino is an iconic name in the sport, a legendary coach and a master recruiter. Seeing what a hungry Pitino is capable of at Iona will be one of the 2020-21 season’s more intriguing mid-major subplots.

JAMES MADISON

  • OUT: Louis Rowe

James Madison is moving on from an alum. Rowe only lasted four seasons as head coach. Going 43-85 overall and 21-51 in CAA play, the Dukes never finished higher than seventh in the conference under Rowe. Rowe’s ouster was the least-surprising move during this college basketball coaching carousel.

  • IN: Mark Byington

The Dukes were able to pluck Mark Byington from Georgia Southern to be their new head coach. In seven seasons with the Eagles, Byington had four 20-win seasons and a CBI appearance. The past three seasons, Byington led Georgia Southern to 20-win seasons.

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT

  • OUT: Mike Dunlap

Veteran coach Mike Dunlap is out after six seasons with the program. Things looked positive with a semifinal appearance in the CBI last season before the Lions finished only 11-21 this season. It was the only postseason appearance for Loyola Marymount in six years. Dunlap finished with an 81-108 record.

  • IN: Stan Johnson

Marquette associate head coach Stan Johnson has been tabbed as the new Loyola Marymount coach. Spending the past five years with the Golden Eagles, Johnson helped Marquette to multiple NCAA tournament appearances. Johnson has also been an assistant with Arizona State, Drake, Utah and Cal State Northridge.

NORTHERN COLORADO

  • OUT: Jeff Linder

The Bears will seek a new head coach after Linder left for the Wyoming job. In four seasons, Linder turned Northern Colorado into a consistent winner. The program has three straight 20-win seasons and back-to-back 15-5 records in Big Sky play. Postseason success also came thanks to a CIT title in 2018. Linder made a strong mark in just four seasons and will be tough to replace.

  • IN: Steve Smiley

Northern Colorado promoted Steve Smiley to replace Linder. An associate head coach with the Bears since 2016, Smiley also spent time as an assistant at Weber State. Smiley also brings experience from the JUCO ranks as well. Replacing Linder will be tough. But Smiley’s presence on Linder’s staff means he’s seen the program’s recent formula to success.

SAMFORD

  • OUT: Scott Padgett

Following six seasons at Samford, the program moved on from former Kentucky star Scott Padgett. It seemed like Padgett had things going in the right direction with a 20-win season and CIT appearance in his third season. But the Bulldogs never came close to achieving those benchmarks in Padgett’s final three seasons. Padgett is a former assistant under Manhattan coach Steve Masiello and also spent time at Samford before getting the head job.

  • IN: Bucky McMillan

Samford turned to the local high school ranks to fill its head-coaching vacancy. Mountain Brook High School coach Bucky McMillan takes over the Bulldogs after a 12-year run and five state titles. McMillan isn’t a typical hire but he’s run a winning program before.

SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE

  • OUT: Rick Ray

The school announced the removal of head coach Rick Ray on March 3rd. In five years with the Redhawks, Ray never found his footing, going 51-104 overall and 27-59 in OVC play. The former Mississippi State head coach has spent time as an assistant at Clemson, Purdue, Northern Illinois and Indiana State.

  • IN: Brad Korn

SEMO is turning to the Big 12 for its new head coach. Brad Korn has spent the past five seasons under Bruce Weber’s staff at Kansas State — the past four as an assistant coach. Korn has also spent considerable time as an assistant coach at Southern Illinois and Missouri State.

TARLETON STATE

  • OUT: Chris Reisman

Stepping down as men’s basketball coach due to a promotion, Reisman is remaining with Tarleton State. Reisman will serve in an administrative role as assistant athletic director after two seasons as head coach. Tarleton transitions into Division I this season as a member of the WAC.

  • IN: Billy Gillispie

Returning to the Division I level is the controversial former Kentucky and Texas Tech head coach. Gillispie spent the past four seasons as coach and athletic director at Ranger College in the junior college ranks. Gillispie took Ranger to back-to-back tournaments the past two seasons.

UAB

  • OUT: Rob Ehsan

Ehsan replaced Jerod Haase as the head coach of the Blazers. But after four years, he was let go. Ehsan finished at .500 or above in every season that he was in charge, winning 20 games twice and finishing with a record of 76-57 and 38-34 in league play. The overwhelming favorite to replace him is Andy Kennedy, an alum and a former assistant at the school.

  • IN: Andy Kennedy

After a two-year hiatus, Andy Kennedy is back on the sidelines. The former Ole Miss boss is returning to his alma mater with this decision. Following 12 years with the Rebels, Kennedy resigned and spent the past two seasons in the broadcast booth. Although Kennedy has a notable 266-169 mark as a head coach, he only has two NCAA tournament appearances in 13 seasons as a head coach. The Big Dance will be the benchmark Kennedy will be expected to achieve at UAB.

UNC WILMINGTON

  • OUT: C.B. McGrath

McGrath was relieved of his duties as UNCW head coach in mid-January after the program got off to a 5-14 start to the season, losing their first six games in CAA play. In two and a half years at the helm of the Seahawks, McGrath had a 26-60 overall record and a 10-32 mark in league play. Assistant coach Rob Burke was named the interim head coach.

  • IN: Takayo Siddle

The Seahawks went back to Kevin Keatts with their hire to replace McGrath, grabbing Siddle, who is currently an N.C. State assistant coach, to take the program over. Keatts brought them to two NCAA tournaments in three years before leaving for Raleigh and being replaced by McGrath.

WESTERN ILLINOIS

  • OUT: Billy Wright

Head coach Billy Wright will not have his contract renewed for the 2020-21 season, the school announced March 3. Over six seasons, the former assistant at the school went 53-115 overall with a 20-74 mark in Summit League play.

  • IN: Rob Jeter

Returning to the head-coaching ranks is Jeter. The former Milwaukee head coach amassed a 184-170 mark in 11 seasons with the school, making two NCAA tournament appearances. Jeter has most recently spent time as an assistant at Minnesota and UNLV.

WESTERN MICHIGAN

  • OUT: Steve Hawkins

After 17 seasons as head coach, and 20 overall at the school, Steve Hawkins is out at Western Michigan. The veteran head coach’s contract will run out and not be renewed. Hawkins finishes with two NCAA tournament appearances and a 291-262 at Western Michigan.

  • IN: Clayton Bates

Western Michigan opted to promote associate head coach Clayton Bates to be the program’s new head coach. Bates has been an assistant with the Broncos on-and-off since 2000 as he brings plenty of experience with the program.

WYOMING

  • OUT: Allen Edwards

Things changed quickly at Wyoming under Edwards. His first season, Wyoming claimed the CBI and won 23 games. The second season made it back-to-back 20-win seasons. Years three and four saw Wyoming only win 17 total games. The Cowboys saw the program plummet the past two seasons.

  • IN: Jeff Linder

Wyoming moved quickly to secure Northern Colorado’s Jeff Linder as the Cowboys’ next head coach. Linder is coming off of a strong four-year stretch with the Bears. Following a rebuild, Linder helped the Bears to three straight 20-win seasons — including a CIT title in 2018. Linder was an impressive 48-28 in Big Sky play during his tenure at Northern Colorado.

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

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The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.