Exit Strategy: Power-League Members Poach Coaches From Mid-Majors
An average of four coaches per year leave NCAA playoff teams since seeding started in 1979. The first tournament mentor to depart this season was Kevin Keatts, who abandoned UNC Wilmington for North Carolina State to try to restore some pride with the Wolfpack. No confirmation yet if NC State's negotiations interrupted Keatts' playoff game prep with UNCW or included asking him if he knew anything as a Louisville assistant about the Best Little Whore(dorm) in Kentucky.
It might be a move up financially for Keatts, but it's debatable as to whether he'll direct the NC State to respectability in the ACC or simply become the next John Groce, who was recently jettisoned by Illinois after becoming one of 12 mentors since 2012 to be hired by a power-league member after directing a mid-major to the NCAA playoffs. The Illini subsequently hired Brad Underwood after he served only one season with Oklahoma State.
In every year since 1968, directing a team to the NCAA Tournament has been a springboard to what many believed was bigger-and-better things at a "poach-a-coach" school. Following are head coaches since the tourney field expanded to at least 64 entrants in 1985 who had a change of heart and accepted similar job at a different major college promptly after directing team to the NCAA playoffs:
1985 (six) - J.D. Barnett (Virginia Commonwealth to Tulsa), Craig Littlepage (Penn to Rutgers), Nolan Richardson Jr. (Tulsa to Arkansas), Andy Russo (Louisiana Tech to Washington), Tom Schneider (Lehigh to Penn), Eddie Sutton (Arkansas to Kentucky)
1990 (five) - Kermit Davis Jr. (Idaho to Texas A&M), Mike Jarvis (Boston University to George Washington), Lon Kruger (Kansas State to Florida), Mike Newell (UALR to Lamar), Les Robinson (East Tennessee State to North Carolina State)
1994 (eight) - Tom Asbury (Pepperdine to Kansas State), Rick Barnes (Providence to Clemson), Jeff Capel Jr. (North Carolina A&T to Old Dominion), Kevin O'Neill (Marquette to Tennessee), Skip Prosser (Loyola MD to Xavier), Kelvin Sampson (Washington State to Oklahoma), Ralph Willard (Western Kentucky to Pittsburgh), Jim Wooldridge (Southwest Texas State to Louisiana Tech)
1997 (five) - Ernie Kent (Saint Mary's to Oregon), Mack McCarthy (UT-Chattanooga to Virginia Commonwealth), Jim O'Brien (Boston College to Ohio State), Steve Robinson (Tulsa to Florida State), Al Skinner (Rhode Island to Boston College), Tubby Smith (Georgia to Kentucky)
1998 (seven) - Rick Barnes (Clemson to Texas), Larry Eustachy (Utah State to Iowa State), Rob Evans (Mississippi to Arizona State), Mark Gottfried (Murray State to Alabama), Mike Jarvis (George Washington to St. John's), Melvin Watkins (UNC Charlotte to Texas A&M), Tim Welsh (Iona to Providence)
2003 (eight) - Cy Alexander (South Carolina State to Tennessee State), Ed DeChellis (East Tennessee State to Penn State), Dennis Felton (Western Kentucky to Georgia), Ben Howland (Pittsburgh to UCLA), Oliver Purnell (Dayton to Clemson), Bill Self (Illinois to Kansas), Dereck Whittenburg (Wagner to Fordham), Roy Williams (Kansas to North Carolina)
2004 (eight) - Jessie Evans (Louisiana-Lafayette to San Francisco), Ray Giacoletti (Eastern Washington to Utah), Billy Gillispie (Texas-El Paso to Texas A&M, Trent Johnson (Nevada to Stanford), Thad Matta (Xavier to Ohio State), Matt Painter (Southern Illinois to Purdue), Joe Scott (Air Force to Princeton), John Thompson III (Princeton to Georgetown)
2006 (eight) - Mike Anderson (UAB to Missouri), Brad Brownell (UNC Wilmington to Wright State), Mick Cronin (Murray State to Cincinnati), Mike Davis (Indiana to UAB), Fran Dunphy (Penn to Temple), Greg McDermott (Northern Iowa to Iowa State), Kelvin Sampson (Oklahoma to Indiana), Herb Sendek (North Carolina State to Arizona State)
2008 (five) - Jim Christian (Kent State to Texas Christian), Tom Crean (Marquette to Indiana), Keno Davis (Drake to Providence), Darrin Horn (Western Kentucky to South Carolina), Trent Johnson (Stanford to Louisiana State)
2010 (five) - Tony Barbee (Texas-El Paso to Auburn), Steve Donahue (Cornell to Boston College), Bob Marlin (Sam Houston State to Louisiana-Lafayette), Fran McCaffery (Siena to Iowa), Oliver Purnell (Clemson to DePaul).
2011 (seven) - Mike Anderson (Missouri to Arkansas), Patrick Chambers (Boston University to Penn State), Ed DeChellis (Penn State to Navy), Sydney Johnson (Princeton to Fairfield), Lon Kruger (UNLV to Oklahoma), Jim Larranaga (George Mason to Miami FL), Mark Turgeon (Texas A&M to Maryland)
2012 (six) - Larry Eustachy (Southern Mississippi to Colorado State), Jim Ferry (Long Island to Duquesne), John Groce (Ohio University to Illinois), Frank Martin (Kansas State to South Carolina), Tim Miles (Colorado State to Nebraska), Sean Woods (Mississippi Valley State to Morehead State)
2016 (seven) - Chris Beard (UALR to UNLV to Texas Tech), Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh to Texas Christian), Scott Nagy (South Dakota State to Wright State), Steve Pikiell (Stony Brook to Rutgers), Tubby Smith (Texas Tech to Memphis), Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt to Pittsburgh), Brad Underwood (Stephen F. Austin to Oklahoma State)
2017 (four) - Kevin Keatts (UNC Wilmington to North Carolina State), Archie Miller (Dayton to Indiana), Brad Underwood (Oklahoma State to Illinois), Will Wade (Virginia Commonwealth to Louisiana State)