Why College Basketball Teams Look to Alumni for Coaches

That’s why former NBA players like Clyde Drexler (Houston), Chris Mullin (St. John’s), Eddie Jordan (Rutgers) and Kevin Ollie (Connecticut) didn’t have lasting success at their alma maters, although Ollie won a national championship before fizzling out. And that’s why Patrick Ewing has struggled in Georgetown, where his team has lost its last 21 games this season.

“Most guys who’ve been in the NBA, they made so much money, they didn’t really care about coaching,” said Roy Williams, who retired last year as a North Carolina coach after winning three national titles and cheered on Davis in Philadelphia last weekend.

More recently, however, there are signs of success.

Mike Woodson in Indiana, Penny Hardaway in Memphis and Aaron McKie in Temple, as well as Howard and Davis, have their alma maters headed in the right direction. Only Woodson, a distinguished NBA coach, had much experience as a head coach.

Memphis has only appeared in the NCAA Tournament once out of three tries under Hardaway, but its impact on the school was immediate: attendance jumped 7,840 in its first season, the biggest increase college basketball in 25 years. He surrounded himself with NBA veterans – former players Rasheed Wallace and Mike Miller were on his team, as was Brown, the only coach to win both an NBA and NCAA championship. But last week, the NCAA charged Memphis with four major recruiting violations, including failing to cooperate with investigators.

When Montana State athletic director Leon Costello was looking for a basketball coach to rejuvenate a languid program, he couldn’t turn to a list of former NBA players.

But he could turn to Danny Sprinkle, a freshman star on the Montana State team who reached the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Sprinkle also had experience as a school assistant.