Jimmy Dykes politely asks for a brief moment as he searches his cell phone for a message.
The text he received from a somewhat young head coach on a Power 6 basketball show, he says, will provide an appropriate answer to a question just asked. How frustrated are college basketball coaches in the state of the industry?
“This text says a lot,” says Dykes, an ESPN college basketball analyst and former coach.
Dykes finds the message and begins to read.
“I am trying to process everything. The past 14 months and rule changes will change the college athletic model FOREVER. The next five years will be the most volatile we’ve had in sport. I’m trying to figure it out every hour like every other coach in the country. “
The college coaching fraternity (basketball, football, and more) has been simmering for several months about the changing landscape of college athletics, specifically the rules governing athlete compensation and transfer freedoms. In fact, some believe the NCAA’s modernization of its rules is even pushing longtime coaches and administrators out of the profession.
On Wednesday, Mike Krzyzewski announced his retirement, and while the normal retirement age has passed at 74, there is a sense that he is the last coach and manager of his generation to retire in light of the growing changes. in the game.
Krzyzewski, who will be leaving after this upcoming 2021-22 season, follows former North Carolina coach Roy Williams in the door, as well as his own athletic director, Kevin White, a veteran AD whose influence on the managerial world of Los Angeles. college sports is unmatched. Lon Kruger, the longtime men’s basketball coach in Oklahoma, also recently retired, as did Barry Alvarez from Wisconsin, Greg McGarity from Georgia and Dan Guerrero, the veteran AD at UCLA.
All of those men are at least 65 years old, and many of them are over 70. But is it a coincidence that the college sports titans are exiting the industry before the most disturbing year in their history? Some, even those in the retiring group, say no.
The main problem is the roster management problem caused by the new transfer rule that allows all athletes the ability to transfer once in their careers and immediately play at their new school. There is also the looming uncertainty of athlete compensation and lingering struggles over the closure of COVID-19. Even the future of the NCAA itself is in doubt.
“A lot of us grew up in what I would call the golden age of athletics, where it wasn’t that complicated. It’s always been tough, but not as tough as it is now, ”says McGarity, who, after more than a decade as Georgia’s AD, now works for the Gator Bowl.
“I doubt that Coach K and Roy Williams can say with certainty: ‘This is the one who will be on my team next year.’ The uncertainty adds to the exodus of coaches from the game. It is a domino effect. It affects everyone, including sports directors. “
Not everyone agrees, of course. At least one of the retirements was scheduled for last year. Alvarez, 74, delayed his departure to lead the Wisconsin athletic department during the pandemic.
Others have been a long time coming, industry experts say. White and Williams, for example, are 70, and Kruger and Guerrero are 68.
“Training and being an AD today is very, very difficult and you get to a certain age and everyone has to leave at some point,” says Gene DeFilippo, the former retired athletic director of Villanova and Boston College who is now the CEO of Turnkey Sports and Entertainment, one of the most widely used coaching search firms. “I think a lot of that is age. The boys are tired. “
However, for two of the greats of college basketball, Williams and Krzyzewski, the transfer situation is linked to their departures, according to various published reports and their own public statements.
Williams, a self-proclaimed “old school” coach, spoke out against the new NCAA transfer legislation in March. The coach, in fact, was caught in one of the highest-profile transfer situations earlier this year, when his five-star, 7-foot center, Walker Kessler, jumped into the transfer portal after one season, and he finally landed on Auburn in a move that finally pushed Williams out the door.
Across the college basketball landscape, coaches are grappling with this new reality: Free agency, they say, has come to the sport. As of early this spring, the transfer portal featured more than 1,200 men’s basketball players, representing about a quarter of the available Division I scholarship spots.
Pulling out the new college basketball waiver wire may be the fastest path to success. This year’s men’s national champion, Baylor, started two and sometimes three transfers, getting 54% of his points from those players this season.
Across the NCAA, transfer rates continue to rise, according to research from the governing body. In men’s basketball, about 40% of players who enter DI after high school drop out of their initial school at the end of their sophomore year. The four-year transfer rate in men’s basketball has increased from 10% in 2010 to 16% last year.
“I think you see coaches saying, ‘I don’t want to deal with this anymore,'” says Dykes. “I think there are a lot of college coaches stuck in their work. They don’t like the landscape, they like the way it looks and they have no outlet in their mind due to the pressure and responsibilities that we all have in life.
“It seems we have lost two of the great voices of college dance. I don’t know if this is too strong to say, but all the hype and pressure for NIL and the transfer rule … what are the unintended consequences? It can shorten many coaching careers faster than we thought they would end. “
However, there are dozens of coaches young and old who embrace the new rules. In fact, they are excelling thanks to them, inspecting the transfer portal and selecting the most talented players to add to their rosters.
Baylor wasn’t the only team to make a deep run in the NCAA men’s tournament with a heavy transfer lineup. Houston transfers scored 61% of the team’s points and accounted for 121 of the team’s 155 total starts in the Cougars’ Final Four run. Other Final Four teams, UCLA and Gonzaga, used portal stars, including Bruins top scorer Johnny Juzang and Zags assist leader Andrew Nembhard.
“I think with the changing landscape, if Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski were 40, there wouldn’t be a point of contention. They would adapt and be fine with that, ”says Jay Bilas, a former Duke de Krzyzewski player who is now an ESPN analyst. “But he is 74 years old; he’s thinking about retirement, whether or not those changes happen. “
At his press conference on Thursday, Krzyzewski confirmed this, saying the changes in college basketball did not affect his decision. The same goes for Alvarez, who rejected any idea that his retirement was tied to changes in the NCAA rules.
“The new rules, everyone has to deal with them,” says Álvarez. “It will certainly be different whether you like it or not.”
Regardless of their reasons, the departures leave great chasms in college sports at a critical time. Replacing many of them are unproven coaches and administrators who are staring at a metaphorical black hole.
“The next three or four months is the most uncertain time in the history of college athletics,” says Oliver Luck, a former college administrator and NCAA executive.
Some of the old dogs just shrug their shoulders. DeFilippo sees it as a history that repeats itself. The guard in college athletics changes from time to time, the older generation giving way to a young wave of coaches and AD who must navigate newly discovered and controversial rule changes.
DeFilippo recalls that the NCAA cut soccer scholarships from 95 to 85. Gasp!
Remember the retirements of John Wooden, Vince Dooley, and Bear Bryant. Gasp!
In the end everything went well.
“People want to blame this and that. It’s just the moment. We have always struggled in college athletics. We have always had legends that go away, ”says DeFilippo. “I never thought we would see another Bear Bryant and [now] there’s Coach Saban. I never thought there would be another Wooden and there is Coach K. I don’t know who he is, but there will be another Saban and K. Maybe now he is 10 years old ”.
More college basketball coverage:
• There will never be another like Coach K
• Duke willing to bet on Jon Scheyer
• Roy Williams reacts to news of Coach K’s retirement
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.