University of Missouri AD Mike Alden addressed the media today to inform everyone of the the departure of Missouri men's head basketball coach Frank Haith in a press conference. Here is the relevant information from it.
"Thank you all for showing up on such short notice, I know folks have a lot of things going on, as usual, but we appreciate you taking the time to be with us today. As Chad had said we're on a limited time frame, so I want to try and make sure I offer as much opportunity as I can to answer any questions that you may have. I wanted to at least walk you through a little bit, from a time frame standpoint, some of the things that have taken place over the last 24 hours.
Yesterday morning I received a call from Coach Frank Haith who indicated to me that he was interested in talking to the University of Tulsa about their job. When that takes place, coaches need to ask permission for them to be able to talk to another school. And so, we granted that to Coach Haith yesterday, we gave him the opportunity to talk to those folks. He and I communicated throughout the day, just talking back and forth. And then finally this morning he indicated to me, via text message, that he was going to be leaving Mizzou to go to the University of Tulsa.
So what happened then, what takes place, is we reached out to our players, and we reached out to our staff and we reached out to our support staff. So at nine o'clock this morning I met with our coaching staff and talked with them regarding what had taken place and information that I had learned. I talked with them about some of the expectations we have for them going forward. I was pleased that Coach Fuller was very supportive of being the lead person, the interim head coach, as we go through this transition. We appreciate everything he has done and continues to do for Mizzou, as well as Bryan Tibaldi and Toby Lane and some of the other folks too. Then I met with our support staff, spent some time with them, that would be our administrative assistants, our trainers, our academic advisors, strength coaches and folks like that. I spent a little time with them and talked to them about process. Then finally I just got done meeting with our team. So I met with our team just a little while ago.
In meeting with our students, what I want to make sure that I talked with them about is how proud we are of them, first of all. Secondly, is how critically important it is that we all focus on our academics and our class work; we have three more weeks left in the semester, so it's important that we really finish strong. It is important that we continue to represent Mizzou in an outstanding way, on the court and off the court. And it is important that we continue to train at a high level. From there, they were also aware that Coach Fuller and others would be guiding them as they went forward. I told them at that time as well that I would be meeting with you all too. I wanted to make sure that I kind of walked you through what took place this morning.
So as we look at that now, we certainly are appreciative, very much so, of Frank and the job he did for Mizzou, we thank him. We appreciate him, Pam, Corey and Brianna and we wish them nothing but the best at the University of Tulsa. And for us, our charge now, is to go forward and identify the next head basketball coach at Mizzou.
Now we don't have a time frame on that, so we don't know how long that is going to take. And we don't want to limit ourselves to a time frame on that, we're going to take our time throughout that search process. I will be the person working on that search process there will be a few other folks that I visit with and talk with, resource with that are really involved in the basketball community, and I think that will be a great assistance for us. Our focus on that will be on the strength of our academics at Mizzou, the strength of our facilities at Mizzou, the strength of our league and the success that we've had here at the University of Missouri.
All of those types of things will certainly be a priority as we go forward in identifying that candidate that fits within those kinds of characteristics, those strengths here at Mizzou. And a candidate that also appreciates the strengths that we have here at Mizzou. There is a lot to offer as we have a chance to talk to those candidates that will be out there.
The next time that I would talk to you, after this today, will be when we introduce our next head coach. So I wanted to take that time today to make sure I availed myself to you and to answer questions that you may have before we went out on that search process."
On whether Haith's departure was a surprise and any efforts to retain him at the University of Missouri….
"I think I have probably been around long enough to know that there aren't a lot of things that you don't confront on a daily basis. Each day is different, and so when I received that call yesterday, certainly, I wanted to handle that in a professional way with Frank, which I did. Why he may choose to go to the University of Tulsa that would be something you have to ask Frank."
On any expectations for Haith in his next season had he stayed at Mizzou…
"We meet with our coaches all the time, and after the season we do so as well. Frank and I have met, and we did meet, certainly recognizing that we have a sense of urgency, of what we try to do here. You've heard me use that term before, we do, all of us have a sense of urgency on how important it is that we perform, academically, socially and competitively each and every year. I know I had that conversation with Frank and made sure that he knew that as happy as we are with the success that we have at Mizzou, we always want to have more."
On possible contract extension for Haith…
"I wouldn't want to get into those personnel type of discussions, I know I was very pleased with the job Frank was doing. I know that he had three years left on his contract; I know that it's important that I communicated that we had a sense of urgency going forward. So that would be the extent of that conversation."
"On whether the news of Haith's resignation was deflating…
"I don't know if it's deflating, it's disappointing, because I think you enjoy working with people and I very much enjoyed working with Frank; he's a very good person, he's a good basketball coach. It was our intention to work together for quite some time, but he made a decision that he wanted to work somewhere else and I wish him the best as he goes forward to Tulsa."
On who is involved in the upcoming head coaching search..
"We haven't determined who all those people will be yet, it's a little too soon for that. Once again, officially, the first I knew that Frank would be taking that job at Tulsa was via text message this morning. Obviously I heard all the same things that all of you did, and Frank had talked to me about going there. But once that kicked in place this morning, the number one priority for us was our students, number two was our staff, number three, well I shouldn't put it in that order, but I needed to talk to Dr. Loftin, which I did. I spent some time with Dr. Loftin and Steve Owens, our general counsel; we always make sure that we talk about those things. But we'll determine the rest of that as we go forward today and in the next couple of days."
On the traits of the ideal Missouri basketball coaching candidate… "The traits have to fill in with the values we have here at Mizzou. They need to possess solid values that we represent as an institution. Those people that are out there that are successful and representing those values and winning basketball games are in essence the characteristics you're looking for. How do they connect themselves with people, how do they develop young men, how do they form a team camaraderie bond, and how do they emphasize strength as far as what they're trying to teach as a coach. If you boil it back down though, it's going back to those values we have as an institution."
On the possibility of Central Missouri basketball coach Kim Anderson receiving a call on the Missouri head coach vacancy… "I'm not going to discuss the candidates we'll be talking with at all, but I will say Kim Anderson has done a magnificent job at Central Missouri State. Congratulations to him on a national championship and all the great things he's done in coaching, but we won't discuss individual candidates today."
On the importance of the candidates having previous head coaching experience…"I think that's a characteristic you certainly have to pay close attention to, and someone that has run a program before and seeing what they've done in that position. I've seen a lot of associate head coaches and assistant head coaches in this business that have gone on and been great head coaches. Certainly that's a trait that's an asset, but we don't want to limit the search to just that."
On the value of a coaching candidate having the state of Missouri or University of Missouri ties… "I think that's an intangible that you have to look into and it's a valuable intangible at that. Those types of connections certainly can be a positive, but is that something you focus on as a priority, I don't really think so."
On the financial position of Missouri being able to offer a ‘higher profile' coaching candidate… "We want to identify the right coach at the University of Missouri. We are very pleased with the growth of our budget at Mizzou, and we certainly want to continue to grow at a high level. We want to remain (financially) responsible in what we're doing, and go out and find the right person."
On if the attractiveness of the Missouri basketball program is higher now, as compared to it three years ago before the previous coaching search…
"I think it is. The foundation wasn't as strong three years ago as it is right now. The foundation base in recruiting and the current student-athletes that were put together by Frank Haith, Tim Fuller, Dave Leitao, and Bryan Tibaldi is solid. If I recall several years ago, we had a number of open scholarships and it was really challenging for the staff. Our staff did a really good job in building a solid core of young guys and strengthened our program. Also, the SEC as a league and the SEC Network coming on board is an asset. Mizzou Arena and the facilities is once again an asset as well. I think we're positioned to be a much stronger program today then what we were three years ago."
On assessing Frank Haith's tenure as the head basketball coach at the University of Missouri… "I think Frank did a really good job here. Not only did he win a lot of games and was the national coach of the year in his first season, but he was out in the community and doing things to promote the program."
On interim coach Tim Fuller's duties during the current job search… "Similar to when Frank (Haith) had to serve that suspension earlier this year, Tim was the acting head coach at that time and he did a great job. Our guys are used to that and they're comfortable with him (Fuller) in that role. We also have a lot of other folks on staff that they're familiar with and can help them with any questions they may have."
On the expected time frame of finding a new head coach for Missouri basketball… "This is certainly a unique time. It's unusual this time of year to have a vacancy in college basketball. I want to make sure that we don't rush the process and remain diligent in our search efforts."On the impact of other major programs also currently searching for a new basketball head coach… "When you have other vacancies out there, you're certainly aware of them. For us though, we're only focused on Mizzou and what's the best fit here."
On the importance of retaining the current recruits scheduled to join the team next season… "I know that Tim (Fuller), Bryan (Tibaldi) and a number of our staff members are in constant communication with our current players as well as our recruits. They want to make sure that they know Mizzou cares about them, and hopefully they'll be patient with us as we identify the next head basketball coach. Our staff, and in particular Tim, have done a great job in reaching out to everyone."