College Basketball Coaches On The Move And Staying Put

Yesterday’s Topical Rant on the idea of paying collegiate athletes drew some interesting email responses.  One came from a journalist I have known for well over 50 years who liked the piece – although he thought it was long enough to have been able to be broken in two – and he particularly liked the idea of separating colleges from collegiate Athletic Departments as business entities that were taxable as opposed to non-taxable.  He did add one proviso to the separation of school and business entity as presented yesterday:

“Any college football player working for and being paid by the athletic department must fairly compensate any college cheerleader he shtups.”

I can endorse that addition to my idea on multiple levels…

The men’s college basketball coaching season of change is well underway.  I am not about to rave on or throw shade on the decision of Joe Flabeetz to leave the job as head coach at Whatsammata U to take on the more prestigious job as first assistant coach at Disco Tech.  If anyone here is severely interested enough in such changes to the coaching landscape in men’s college basketball, there are myriad other sites to patronize that will scratch that itch.  Having said that, there are several coaching changes that have happened since the Final Four games took place that seem interesting enough to comment upon.

Porter Moser left the job as the head coach at Loyola-Chicago and took the job as the head coach at Oklahoma once Lon Kruger announced his retirement from the coaching profession the week of the Final Four.  I find this interesting on several levels:

  • Moser had been the coach at Loyola-Chicago since 2011.  His teams made the NCAA Tournament twice in that time making it to the Final Four in 2018 and to the Sweet Sixteen this year.  In addition, his teams went to the NIT once and won the College Basketball Invitational Tournament in 2015.  I cannot believe there was any significant pressure on the part of alums to get him out of that position.
  • Moser’s record at a small mid-major school is the kind of thing that would give him entrée to a job at a “big time school”.  If he were “looking to cash in” on this year’s solid showing in the Tournament, I would have thought that his agent might have been fielding more than a couple of calls from bigger schools.

Porter Moser reportedly made $1M per year as the coach at Loyola-Chicago and the school was “thinking about” offering him a pay raise and an extension when Oklahoma got on the line.  I have not read any reporting on the details on his contract at Oklahoma, but I am sure of two things:

  1. It is more than $1M per year.
  2. It will not break the bank at Oklahoma’s Athletic Department.

Porter Moser is 52 years old; if he wanted to spend the rest of his career at Loyola-Chicago – – or schools of that ilk – – he would never be out of work.  This career choice says to me that he wanted to do more with his career than he could rationally accomplish at Loyola-Chicago because he took more money and more “exposure” in exchange for becoming the coach of an after-thought at Oklahoma.  Please do not try to convince me that men’s basketball is anywhere near the level of importance that the Sooner’s football team enjoys.  Porter Moser chose to take some added money to try to make Oklahoma basketball into something it has never been – – something the money-bags alums give a damn about from January until April.

Bonne chance, Porter Moser…

UCLA rewarded coach Mick Cronin with a contract extension through the 2026/27 season at $4M per year.  The Bruins began the Tournament as a play-in team and made it all the way to the Final Four losing on a half-court buzzer beater in OT.  That is the first time UCLA has been to the Final Four since 2008.  Well done, Coach Cronin.

Two other college basketball coaching decisions paint two distinctly different approaches to schools disciplining their coaches.  Sean Miller has been the head coach at Arizona since 2009; he was fired this week.  One of Miller’s assistant coaches from 2009 to 2017 was “Book” Richardson; he was one of the coaches caught up in the FBI investigation of illegal recruiting activities and plead guilty to charges of bribery and was sentenced in June 2019.  I have never thought that the FBI investigation was legit; I think what the investigation found was that Richardson – – and other assistant coaches – – violated almost every tenet of the NCAA recruiting rulebook but that it took a humongous stretch of logic to say it violated Federal law.  Notwithstanding my disbelief, “Book” Richardson is guilty of bribery and the world has known that since early in 2019 and had reason to suspect that it was the case as far back as 2017.

If “Book” Richardson is a felon, it seems fair to me to ask how it took at least 2 years and maybe as many as 4 years for the administrators at Arizona to figure out that Richardson’s boss – – Sean Miller – – might be associated in some way with those recruiting improprieties.  For whatever the reason(s), it took that long until Miller’s tenure as the head coach became sufficiently embarrassing for the school to buy him out and “go in a different direction”.  By the way, good luck to anyone who takes the job in the current environment; the NCAA will surely move at a snail’s pace from here on out to determine what else may have happened so that it can levy sanctions against the Arizona basketball program.  Anyone going there now has a steep uphill climb in front of him.

The situation in Kansas is almost a mirror image of the one in Arizona.  Head coach Bill Self was directly implicated by the FBI investigators but not charged and the NCAA has informed the school of 5 Top Level charges of rules violations against Self and the Kansas basketball program.  That sounds serious; so how are the Jayhawks’ administrators and alums dealing with that:

  • Kansas just made Bill Self a coach for life indicating in the contract extension that the coach would not be fired “due to any current infractions matter”.
  • “Coach for life” might not be taken literally.  The new contract is a sequence of 5-year contracts that roll over at the close of every year. That is not literally a “lifetime contract” but it is close.
  • What Kansas administrators and alums are saying to the NCAA is something like, ”We got our coach; we like our coach; you want to punish him or punish the school, go ahead.  We’ll be here when the punishments are history.”

The salary attached to this “lifetime contract” in the upcoming year is $5.7M.  Under the circumstances, I would hope that Bill Self’s agent did not spend hours pouring over and renegotiating  the “howevers” and the “moreovers” in the contract.

Finally, the last two items today recall a comment by the 18th century Scottish economist, Adam Smith:

“Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “College Basketball Coaches On The Move And Staying Put”

  1. My only OMG about Ported Moser was, “why Oklahoma?” I am sure Norman is a wonderful town, but leaving Chicago and the home is has in Wilmette for the hot, dusty plains of Oklahoma had to be a weird choice. Especially when UNC and Arizona jobs opened up almost immediately after he signed with the Sooners.

    1. Doug:

      He was never going to get a sniff of the UNC job – – so I’ll spot him that one. However the Arizona job is a step up from even Oklahoma even considering the sanctiona about to come down on the school.

Comments are closed.