ESPN Network: | RPM | | | | | ABCSports | EXPN | FANTASY | INSIDER

  RPI Rankings
  Message Board
  NCAA StatSearch

Monday, March 5, 2001
Crum retiring after season

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Denny Crum will retire after the season, ending a 30-year career at Louisville in which he coached the Cardinals to six Final Fours and two national championships.

The announcement Friday on his 64th birthday confirmed speculation that began at midseason that this season would be his last year.

Friday, March 2
It was time for Denny Crum to step away from the game. Certain things happened that he just couldn't control. And once you start losing, it gets ugly. I think he made the right choice to leave on his terms. But you always want to see a coach go out as a winner. Only Al McGuire did it the right way -- win his national title and get out.

Denny has nothing to regret. He had a great coaching career at Louisville. Neither this season nor the last four years should take anything away from what he accomplished over the previous 26 years. Denny made Louisville into a national power. In its heyday, Louisville was one of the most feared teams in the country.

Very simply, he'll be remembered for his two national titles. In fact, he is one of only 10 coaches to win multiple national titles. And he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame while he was still coaching. Not many coaches get that honor. That shows how much Denny is respected by those who really know basketball.

His team is 11-18 heading into Saturday's regular-season finale against Memphis, and then the Conference USA tournament. The Hall of Fame coach, who had two years left on his contract, will finish the season.

"I'm going because I want to," Crum said at a news conference.

Crum has won 674 games, 14th on the career list. The only active Division I basketball coach with more time at one school is Jim Phelan, with 47 years at Mount St. Mary's.

The university will pay Crum about $7 million over the next 15 years, officials said Friday.

He will become a consultant and will make about $338,000 a year for 15 years as an assistant for development to university president John Shumaker. That is in addition to $2 million he will receive as part of the termination clause in his contract.

Crum's teams have gone just 61-61 the past four seasons, with an 0-2 mark in the NCAA tournament. The program was also hit with sanctions twice in the 1990s, although no violations were directly linked to Crum.

Crum is only active college coach in the Hall of Fame, and he and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski were the only two active coaches with more than one NCAA title. Crum's six Final Fours were second among active coaches to Krzyzewski's eight.

Crum had promised to return next season, touting the incoming class as one of his best in years. But he met with athletic director Tom Jurich on Jan. 25 after Jurich was quoted as saying he could not guarantee Crum would be back.

Crum's strained relationship with Jurich escalated last week with the release of confidential memos between the two. Shumaker called the release of the memos "not appropriate."

Shumaker denied then that university officials have held secret meetings, talked with boosters about buyouts or contacted other coaches.

Pitino popular among ex-Cardinals
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich isn't saying who's on his short list to replace Hall of Fame basketball coach Denny Crum.

The name at the top of a lot of other lists is Rick Pitino.

Jurich refused to comment on possible candidates Friday and was unavailable for comment on Saturday. He missed Louisville's regular-season finale with Memphis – at which Crum was honored in a postgame ceremony – to attend the Conference USA women's basketball tournament in Milwaukee.

Associate athletic director Mike Pollio said Saturday he "had no evidence as to what Tom might do or who he's considering."

Ex-players say Jurich should go after Pitino, who rescued Kentucky from NCAA probation and guided the Wildcats to a national championship in 1996. Pitino left Kentucky after the following season to coach the Boston Celtics, but left in January as the Celtics remained one of the NBA's worst teams.

Pitino was attending the Kentucky-Florida game in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday. He planned to work for CBS during the NCAA tournament.

"Rick Pitino is the guy," said Robbie Valentine, who played for Crum from 1982-86 and now works as the analyst on Louisville's local television broadcasts.

"Rick Pitino would thrive in this situation. He would be the perfect fit," said Wiley Brown, a Louisville player from 1978-82 and now a strength coach for the team.

Darrell Griffith, the school's all-time leading scorer, said Pitino "should be looked at seriously." But he also said Jurich should consider someone with Louisville connections, like former Crum player and assistant Jerry Eaves, now an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets, or former New Jersey Nets coach Butch Beard, who played for Louisville in the 1960s.
-- Associated Press

"It should've never happened like this," said Junior Bridgeman, a member of the school's board of trustees who starred for Crum from 1972-75. "So many people outside the program have gotten involved and it was disappointing to see this handled this way.

"It's also amazing to me how things turn. Here's a guy who's built this program from the ground up and the speculation just kept getting worse. I didn't like to see it."

Louisville remained a perennial Top 25 team into the mid-1990s, posting seven 20-win seasons from 1987-97. The Cardinals went 26-9 and reached the national quarterfinals in 1997.

Crum passed John Wooden on the all-time victory list this season in Louisville's 86-85 win over UNLV in this year's Maui Classic.

Crum blamed this year's struggles on inexperience. The squad has only two seniors and six freshmen -- his youngest team ever. His strong recruiting class for next season included Carlos Hurt, considered one of the best guards in the nation.

A native of San Fernando, Calif., Crum played for Wooden at UCLA in the 1950s. He graduated in 1958 and served as a graduate assistant coach for Wooden from 1959-61. He coached briefly at Pierce Junior College in Los Angeles, before returning to work for Wooden from 1968-71. The Bruins went 86-4 and won three national championships while Crum was there.

Wooden, one of Crum's most trusted mentors, could not be reached for comment Friday. He attended Crum's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994.

Crum replaced John Dromo as Louisville's coach in 1971 and the Cardinals reached the Final Four in his first season, losing to UCLA in the semifinals. Louisville returned to the Final Four in 1975 and again in 1980, breaking through for the school's first championship by beating UCLA in the championship game.

The Cardinals won their second championship in Dallas in 1986, beating Duke 72-69 in the title game. They haven't been back to the Final Four since.

Meanwhile, Jurich is expected to move quickly to find a replacement. His top three – and potentially only three – candidates are high school classmate Larry Eustachy of Iowa State, Chicago Bulls coach Tim Floyd and Alabama coach Mark Gottfried.

Sources have told's Andy Katz that Eustachy could be ready to move on after this season. The same sources said Floyd would be reluctant to give up the riches of NBA, if it's up to him. Meanwhile, Gottfried is in intense negotiations with Alabama for a long-term contract, but if things go sour he might be willing to leave his alma mater.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
Vitale: No yearlong farewell for Crum

Bilas: Even legends like Crum can't stay forever

Crum built Cardinals into a national power in 1980s

 Denny Crum announces his plans for the future.
RealVideo: 28.8

 Denny Crum says retiring was his decision.
wav: 204 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6's Andy Katz looks at the top candidates to take over at Louisville.
wav: 466 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6