B1G hoops coaches rarely leave for head coaching jobs

The speculation machine is in overdrive with chatter that Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is a target to fill the recently opened Tennessee job. Nebraska’s Tim Miles also has been mentioned. Bottom line: Neither is likely to leave their current posts. As Amelia Rayno from the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague said on the Dan Barreiro show on KFAN that Pitino is not interested in the job.

In fact, history shows that Big Ten coaches rarely leave to take coaching jobs at other schools. They either are fired, retire or resign.

Over the past 35-plus years, only nine have left on their own to take a head coaching position at another college: Illinois’ Bill Self (Kansas), Iowa’s Steve Alford (New Mexico), Iowa’s George Raveling (USC), Iowa’s Lute Olson (Arizona), Michigan’s Johnny Orr (Iowa State), Michigan’s Bill Frieder (Arizona State); Ohio State’s Gary Williams (Maryland), Penn State’s Ed DeChellis (Navy) and Purdue’s Lee Rose (South Florida).

Lon Kruger is the only Big Ten coach to leave for an NBA head coaching job (Atlanta). Here’s a look at how the head coaches at each Big Ten school have exited their respective schools dating back over the past 35 or so seasons.


  • Lou Henson (1975-1996): retired; later took New Mexico State job
  • Lon Kruger (1996-2000): left to coach Atlanta Hawks
  • Bill Self (2000-2003): left to coach Kansas
  • Bruce Weber (2003-2012): fired; took Kansas State job


  • Bob Knight (1971-2000): fired
  • Mike Davis (2000-2006): resigned; took UAB job
  • Kelvin Sampson (2006-2008): fired; recently hired this year at Houston


  • Lute Olson (1973-83): left for Arizona
  • George Raveling (1983-86): left for USC
  • Tom Davis (1986-1999): contract not renewed/retired; took Drake job in 2003.
  • Steve Alford (1999-2007): left to coach New Mexico now coaching UCLA
  • Todd Lickliter (2007-2010): fired


  • Johnny Orr (1968-80): left to coach Iowa State
  • Bill Frieder (1980-89): left to coach Arizona State
  • Steve Fisher (1989-1997): fired; later hired at San Diego State
  • Brian Ellerbe (1997-2001): fired
  • Tommy Amaker (2001-2007): fired; hired at Harvard

Michigan State

  • Jud Heathcote (1976-1995): retired


  • Jim Dutcher (1975-86): resigned
  • Clem Haskins (1986-1999): resigned
  • Dan Monson (1999-2006): resigned; hired at Long Beach State
  • Tubby Smith (2007-2013): fired; hired at Texas Tech


  • Moe Iba (1980-86): resigned
  • Danny Nee (1986-2000): fired
  • Barry Collier (2000-2006): resigned to become A.D. at Butler
  • Doc Sadler (2006-2012): fired


  • Rich Falk (1978-1986): fired
  • Bill Foster (1986-1993): resigned to become A.D. at Northwestern
  • Ricky Byrdsong (1993-1997): fired
  • Kevin O’Neill (1997-2000): left to take an assistant coaching job with New York Knicks
  • Bill Carmody (2000-2013): fired

Ohio State

  • Eldon Miller (1977-1986): fired
  • Gary Williams (1986-89): left to coach Maryland
  • Randy Ayers (1989-97): fired
  • Jim O’Brien (1997-2004): fired

Penn State

  • Dick Harter (1978-83): resigned
  • Bruce Parkhill (1983-1995): resigned
  • Jerry Dunn (1995-2003): fired
  • Ed DeChellis (2003-2011): left to coach Navy


  • Lee Rose (1978-80): left to coach South Florida
  • Gene Keady (1980-2005): retired


  • Bill Cofield (1976-82): resigned
  • Steve Yoder (1982-92): resigned
  • Stu Jackson (1992-94): resigned to be GM of Vancouver Grizzlies
  • Stan Van Gundy (1994-95): fired; hired as NBA assistant and later as head coach of Orlando Magic
  • Dick Bennett (1995-2001): resigned


About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Show Comments (4 Comments)
Bob Chorba on 4/17/2014 @ 3:42pm EDT Said:

list has omissions.
Randy Ayres took over for Gary Williams at OSU and was fired. Bennett’s successor with WI was there one year and was fired.

Andy Lounsbury on 4/18/2014 @ 8:50am EDT Said:

“Over the past 35 or so years, only five have left on their own to take a head coaching position at another college”

This is factually wrong. 34 years ago Johnny Orr left Michigan for Iowa State, 31 years ago Lute Olson left Iowa for Arizona, 28 years ago George Raveling left Iowa for USC. 3 omissions that involve the state of Iowa alone. Guessing their are more, considering this is the headline hitting the newswire you may want to retract.

Andy Lounsbury on 4/18/2014 @ 9:05am EDT Said:

Another omission 33 years ago Lee Rose left Purdue for South Florida.

Mike Geller on 4/19/2014 @ 10:30am EDT Said:

You see the stability in Michigan State. Only program with no one fired during that time. That is why we are the premier basketball program in the BIG.