One and Done

After just one day on the job, new Razorback basketball coach Dana Altman bolts back to Creighton while citing family reasons.

About 24 hours earlier, Arkansas had introduced Dana Altman as its new basketball coach.

But late Tuesday afternoon, on nearly the same spot outside Bud Walton Arena that Stan Heath spoke from after being fired, Altman revealed a jolting reversal of thought.

He couldn't cope with leaving Creighton and couldn't handle putting his family through a life-altering move to Arkansas. So, in the end, he simply decided he wouldn't.

"It is with deep regret that I inform you that I have decided to return to Creighton," Altman said. "I want to sincerely apologize to Chancellor (John) White, (Athletic Director Frank) Broyles, the Razorback fans and in particular the players."

In describing his decision-making process, one topic seemed to rise above the rest for the coach who has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances.

He knocked down rumors he was leaving because of academic problems regarding the Razorback players.

"There are a couple of players that have to get to class (more)," Altman said, "but as far as a problem -- no."

He still lauded Arkansas' program, still grasped the upgrade the Arkansas job would've been for him.

But one issue kept arising.

"This is something I'm doing for my family," Altman said. "I wish I would have come to that decision earlier."

So do White and Broyles, who now must start the coaching search all over. White said the university would hire an executive firm to assist in the search, which will resume today.

White didn't mince words as he tried to rank how down a day Tuesday was for the University of Arkansas.

"This is one of the shortest chapters and one of the most disappointing chapters in the history of the institution," White said.

Broyles was scheduled to land at Drake Field just before midnight after a jet registered to The Razorback Foundation picked him up in Augusta, Ga.

In a statement, Broyles seemed as if he understood Altman's plight.

"I am disappointed that Coach Altman has decided to return to Creighton University," Broyles said. "He put 13 years into that program, and leaving his home state proved more difficult than he could have imagined."

Altman spent most of his first and only day on the job in what was to be his new office in Bud Walton Arena. With Broyles en route to Augusta for this week's Masters golf tournament, White thought he'd drop by and see how his new coach was doing.

Immediately upon arrival, around 11 a.m., White perceived some troubling traits about Altman.

"I sensed early (Tuesday) he was beginning to have some reservations," White said.

White said he and Altman then talked for an hour, discussing the internal strife Altman was experiencing. The overwhelming theme was family, and Altman's reluctance to put them in an uncomfortable situation.

Altman said White was a person who was "all about family," and he comprehended the arduous choice Altman had to make. He said White told him, "You have to do what you have to do."

Arkansas' chancellor expanded on Altman's family issues.

"His 14-year-old daughter (Audra) was very, very distressed about leaving her friends in Nebraska," White said. "All of their family is there, and I think what happened frankly, I think he got caught up in all the euphoria of the opportunity.

"Then, he woke up this morning and reality set in."

But White didn't give up. He came back to Bud Walton Arena early in the afternoon and met with Altman for two more hours.

He then called Broyles, who spoke to Altman about his jitters, and White said he had several other people discuss the situation with Altman.

"I wanted to make sure that before he made this decision, that he had the best input he could get from a group of people I think he would respect and certainly I respect," White said. "That took the bulk of the afternoon."

Altman was unwavering in his feelings, though.

And around 5:15 p.m., Altman told White, "I have made my decision."

About an hour later, Altman and White then addressed a cluster of media gathered about 15 feet from Altman's car, parked in the space reserved for Arkansas' basketball coach.

Neither White nor Altman, who grew up in Wilber, Neb., appeared comfortable with the outcome of this rare situation.

"He's embarrassed," White said. "He said, 'I'm sorry I've caused you embarrassment.' I said, 'You haven't caused me embarrassment. You've caused me disappointment.'"

"I said, 'I'm disappointed that you didn't recognize what you were going to have to come to grips with before you came here. But in the long term, if this is what is best for you and your family, then you need to do this.'"


Dana Altman

* On part of his decision:

"I've poured my heart and soul into Creighton University for 13 years, and I just can't leave."

* On a different possible reason and being unsure he could return:

"My ego was involved and I'm not sure of all of the reasons, but again, there was something that, in my heart, wouldn't allow me to do it. After I was sure (Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen) would allow me to return, I talked to my wife and decided to go back."

John White

* On who is taking care of the team:

"We still have Coach (Glynn) Cyprien, who's here with us. We have the administrative staff who have all been working with the players, including the trainer (Dave England), and they're basically (the team's) point of continuity right now."

* On the chance of a future meeting between Arkansas and Creighton:

"I'm looking forward to meeting you in the Final Four and beating the socks off you."

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