Maryland hires Seton Hall's Willard as basketball coach
Kevin Willard is taking over as Maryland's basketball coach after a dozen seasons at Seton Hall.
The Terrapins announced the hire Monday, three days after Seton Hall's season ended with a loss to TCU in the NCAA Tournament. Willard took the Pirates to five of the last six NCAA Tournaments.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kevin to the Terrapin family,” Maryland athletic director Damon Evans said in a statement. “We are excited about the future of Maryland basketball with Kevin leading the way. Known for his gritty, hard-working teams, Kevin has had tremendous success, winning conference championships and leading his teams to NCAA Tournaments."
Maryland has been in the market for a new coach since Mark Turgeon's departure in early December. Assistant Danny Manning took over as interim coach, and the Terrapins went 15-17 for their first losing season since 1993, early in Gary Williams' tenure.
Williams eventually led the Terps to a Final Four in 2001 and a national title the following season, and that's the level Maryland wants to return to.
“Kevin Willard was a proven winner in the Big East while at Seton Hall,” Williams said. “The intensity level of his teams reflect the passion that Kevin will bring to our team and the university.”
Turgeon succeeded Williams in 2011 but could never replicate that success, particularly in the NCAA Tournament. Willard had seven 20-win seasons at Seton Hall.
“I have always admired the Maryland basketball program, and being named the new head coach of one of the biggest brands in college basketball is a tremendous honor,” Willard said. “Thank you to President Darryll Pines and Damon Evans for trusting me to reenergize this proud program as we look to galvanize our passionate fanbase with a gritty, hard-working style of basketball. Having coached against Maryland several times and at XFINITY Center, I know how Terp fans feel about their team and understand their expectations.”
Maryland scheduled a news conference for Tuesday night.
Willard won 225 games at Seton Hall, surpassing P.J. Carlesimo earlier this season for second place on the school's career list. The Pirates won the Big East Tournament in 2016 and a regular-season title in 2020. In that respect, Willard endured a similar fate to Turgeon — they arguably had their best teams at Seton Hall and Maryland in 2020, when the NCAA Tournament was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Terps tied for first in the Big Ten that season.
After Seton Hall was eliminated from this year's NCAA Tournament, Willard candidly said if he wasn't back with the Pirates, he'd love for Shaheen Holloway to be there. Holloway, who played at Seton Hall, coached 15th-seeded Saint Peter's into the Sweet 16 this year; the Peacocks face Purdue later this week.
Seton Hall said it would begin a search for Willard's successor.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Kevin for 10 of his 12 years here at Seton Hall, and I want to thank him for his phenomenal leadership of our men’s basketball program and for helping our student-athletes become the best possible versions of themselves,” Seton Hall athletic director Bryan Felt said. “Kevin came in and immediately changed the culture of our program and built it into a perennial Big East championship and NCAA Tournament contender with student-athletes who succeed in the classroom and represent the university in a first-class manner."
By NOAH TRISTER AP Sports Writer.