Minority Coaches On the Move In High-Profile Basketball Programs
By Frank J. Matthews
It’s not unusual for the annual postseason coaching carousel to deposit old faces in new places. But for the minority head coaches playing musical chairs this off-season, the destinations may feel strangely familiar.
Mike Anderson, former head coach at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, recently accepted the head job at the University of Missouri, where he will go face-to-face with some of college basketball’s perennial power programs. Taking his place at UAB is Mike Davis, who endured a contentious six-year relationship with fans while coaching at Indiana University. But IU quickly tagged the University of Oklahoma’s Kelvin Sampson, the only American Indian head coach in the NCAA, to take the reins after Davis’ departure. And last month, Virginia Commonwealth University head coach Jeff Capel jumped ship to take Sampson’s place at Oklahoma.
Last season, Anderson guided UAB to a 24-6 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance. The move from ConferenceUSA to the Big XII means a step up in competition and in compensation for the coach. Anderson will earn a base salary of $250,000, but endorsement deals and incentives push his guaranteed yearly income to $850,000. If he meets all of his incentives — including winning the national championship, being named national coach of the year and winning the Big XII title — his salary could swell to roughly $1.5 million.
Capel is also making the move from a “mid-major” — the Colonial Athletic Association — to the Big XII, but he is no stranger to the college basketball spotlight. He played for perennial powerhouse Duke University under head coach Mike Krzyzewski and was a solid contributor on Duke’s team, which went to the 1994 National Championship. Anderson was an assistant on Nolan Richardson’s University of Arkansas squad that beat the Blue Devils for the title that year. Capel, now 31, was the youngest head coach in Division 1 when he was hired by VCU four years ago. Since then, VCU has recorded the highest-winning percentage and most wins of any D-1 program in Virginia. Capel’s contract is similar to Anderson’s, as he will earn a base annual salary of $200,000, with another $400,000 in guaranteed outside income and $200,000 in incentives.
“We are both sad and happy with Jeff’s announcement that he is going to Oklahoma,” said VCU athletic director Richard L. Sander in a release by the school. “He did a great job here, and we know he will do a great job there.”
Sampson, Capel’s predecessor at Oklahoma, led the program to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, including this year’s, and three Big XII Tournament championships in his 12 years at the helm. Sampson is widely considered one of the most talented and respected coaches in the college ranks.
“Our new coach is the right man to maintain and build upon IU’s long and storied traditions. Equally important to us are high academic expectations and the core character values of the university,” said IU President Adam Herbert in a statement posted on the university’s athletic Web site. “I am convinced that our new coach understands fully and is determined to meet Indiana University’s high overall expectations.”
Davis apparently didn’t meet those expectations while at IU. Despite leading the team to a surprise NCAA championship game appearance in 2002, he was never fully welcomed in Bloomington. Davis replaced Hoosier legend Bobby Knight, who wore out his welcome with administrators after several high-profile incidents and was publicly against Davis’ promotion to the top job. Several disappointing seasons bred frustration and anger among IU fans, eventually leading to Davis’ resignation at the end of last season.
“I can’t explain to you how excited I am to be back in Alabama and to have an opportunity to lead a basketball program again,” Davis said at his introductory press conference.
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