Indiana men’s basketball hired New York Knicks assistant coach Mike Woodson as its next head coach, the school announced Sunday.
The contract is for six years, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, as Woodson returns to his alma mater.
Woodson, 63, is an Indianapolis native who played for the Hoosiers and coach Bob Knight from 1976 to 1980. Woodson has spent his entire coaching career in the NBA, with 25 years of experience as an assistant and a head coach. He was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks for six seasons and the Knicks for three campaigns.
“I have spoken with numerous individuals at the college and NBA levels, and they were unanimous in their support of and respect for Mike,” Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson said Sunday. “From his ability in terms of X’s and O’s to his skill at building relationships and developing players, his reputation is outstanding. As a coach, he’s succeeded at the highest levels of the NBA, and he’s mentored some of the game’s all-time great players.”
Woodson, who was rehired by the Knicks as an assistant coach in September 2020, was expected to meet with his new players Sunday night, and he will be introduced on campus on Monday.
“We know it is a very special opportunity for Mike to return to his alma mater as head coach and wish him the very best,” Knicks president Leon Rose said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Woody had a great impact on our team’s play and culture this season and he will be missed.”
Woodson becomes the first Indiana alum hired as head coach since Lou Watson replaced Branch McCracken in 1965. Dan Dakich, who also played for Knight and is now a radio personality and color commentator on ESPN, was interim head coach at Indiana for seven games in 2008 after Kelvin Sampson was fired.
Woodson is the second Black coach and third minority coach to lead the program, after Mike Davis, Knight’s successor, and Sampson, who is Native American. Woodson becomes one of 14 Black coaches in the Power 5 and Big East conferences, a group that includes other NBA stalwarts in Juwan Howard (Michigan) and Patrick Ewing (Georgetown).
Reaction to the hiring was positive from those closest to the program.
“I love it. Woody is a proven coach,” former Indiana and Knicks star Jared Jeffries said. “He did an amazing job with our Knicks team. One of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Most of all, understands our school better than anyone.”
Indiana fired Archie Miller earlier this month after four seasons in Bloomington. The Hoosiers pursued Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann, but both remained in their current jobs.
Woodson, who still ranks fifth all time at Indiana with 2,061 points, was one of dozens of players who attended Knight’s return to Assembly Hall in February 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Credit: Source link