BRR Coaching Profiles: Tommy Amaker

After leading Harvard to the NCAA Tournament, Tommy Amaker's name is starting to heat up for many coaching positions, including Nebraska. Come inside why he might be a good fit and why he might not be.

Currently: Harvard (Ivy League Conference)

Age: 46
Salary: unknown
Career Record: 268-193 (92-54 at Harvard)

School Bio: Click Here

As the Nebraska coaching search hits day five, one the hottest names still being mentioned for the opening is Harvard's Tommy Amaker. At 46-years old, Amaker has the Harvard Crimson in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1946.

Amaker's coaching career started after a successful playing career at Duke from 1984 to 1987. During his time there, Amaker was team captain in his final two seasons, and helped lead the Blue Devils to a runner up finish and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the 1986 and 1987. He still holds the school record for 138 consecutive starts.

After a very a short professional career (never made a NBA squad), Amaker returned to Duke in 1988 and became a graduate assistant for Mike Krzyzewski. Over the next nine years, he worked his way up the Duke coaching ranks. During his time there, the Blue Devils would make the Final Four six times, winning the NCAA Tournament twice.

After passing up other Division I offers in the past, Amaker took the Seton Hall head coaching job in 1997, after the Pirates finished 10-18 during the 1996-1997 season.

In his first year, he put Seton Hall back in the postseason, with a NIT appearance. Seton Hall would finish 15-15 in his first and second year.

It wasn't until 1999-2000 the Amaker hiring looked promising. The head coach took the Pirates to the NCAA Tournament, making the Sweet Sixteen. Seton Hall would finish 22-10 and finish tied for forth in the Big East Conference.

Following a mediocre fourth season, where the Pirates finished 16-15, Amaker resigned and took the Michigan job. After a rough first season, where the Wolverines went 11-18, he quickly won forty games in two seasons, winning the NIT Championship in 2003-2004.

After finishing 13-18 in 2004-2005, Amaker went 22-11 the following season, once again making noise in the NIT with a runner up finish.

The 2006-2007 season would be his last in Ann Arbor. Despite a 22-13 record, fans and the media felt Amaker's teams had never lived up to the hype. He was fired on March 17th, 2007, but found a new job less than a month later.

On April 11, Amaker took over the head coaching job at Harvard. The Crimson had not won a Ivy League Conference Championship during their program's history.

"I can't thank you enough for this opportunity," Amaker said at the time. "I certainly feel like it is going to be a joyous ride."

After two rebuilding seasons, with Harvard only winning 22 games, Amaker guided his team to a 21-7 record in 2009-2010 with a CIT postseason appearance.

It only got better the following year, as Harvard made the NIT and finished 12-2 in conference, going 23-7 overall.

But possibly his greatest success as a coach came this season, when Harvard clinched a NCAA Tournament appearance by winning the Ivy League Conference with a 12-2 conference record.

As a No. 12 seed, Harvard takes on 24-10 Vanderbilt on Thursday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


At 46-years old, Amaker still has plenty of good coaching years a head of him. His Duke brand helps in recruiting and he has experience turing around struggling programs. With a previous stop in the Big Ten, Amaker knows what the conference is all about. He would be also the first African-American hire Nebraska has made for a head coach.


Despite three 20+ win seasons at Michigan, Amaker never made the NCAA Tournament with the Wolverines. What says he can do it a with a tougher place to recruit to in Lincoln?


Amaker's wife (Stephanie Pinder-Amaker) currently is the Director of Harvard's College Mental Health Program. Before holding the position, she was the Associate Dean of Students at the University of Michigan while Amaker was there. She holds a PHD in Clinical Psychology from Vanderbilt and was involved with the Duke University Medical Center while Amaker was a player. Does Nebraska have a spot for her? It could be a huge factor.

Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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