Coach K retiring in ’22; Scheyer named successor

iCrackStreamsJune 3, 2021

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who is the winningest coach in Division I men’s basketball history and has led the Blue Devils to five national championships in his 41 seasons, plans to retire after the 2021-22 season, the university announced Wednesday.

“My family and I view today as a celebration,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “Our time at both West Point and Duke has been beyond amazing and we are thankful and honored to have led two college programs at world-class institutions for more than four decades. That, coupled with 11 unforgettable years as the United States National Team coach, has resulted in a remarkable journey. Certainly, I have been blessed to coach some of the finest young men and greatest players in basketball history as a direct result of these unique opportunities.

“For us, there is no greater joy than being part of our players’ respective endeavors through basketball, and more importantly, their lives off the court. Our family is eternally grateful to everyone who contributed to our career for the past 46 years. So, to the countless members of our extended family, thank you very much.”

Associate head coach Jon Scheyer, who played for Krzyzewski from 2006-10, has been named Krzyzewski’s successor. He will spend the 2021-22 season as coach-in-waiting and will take over after that.

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    “Duke University has been a central part of my life for more than a decade, and I could not ask for a better place to continue my career,” Scheyer said. “This is absolutely humbling. First, I offer extreme gratitude to the greatest coach of all time whose career is unrivaled in basketball. Coach K has built the premier program in our sport thanks to his unwavering competitive edge, a tireless attention to detail, a family-first approach and a remarkable compassion and care of his players, coaches, and staff. He has set a standard that every coach at every level should strive to achieve.”

    Duke talked to outside candidates about replacing the 74-year-old Krzyzewski, including Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Scheyer, however, was the lead recruiter on such stars as Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson and was Duke’s choice to replace Krzyzewski.

    “The continuation of our culture at Duke is paramount to future success,” Krzyzewski said. “That is why I am so grateful that [Duke president] Vincent Price, [athletic director] Kevin White and [incoming athletic director] Nina King determined that Jon Scheyer represents our best path forward. He is clearly ready for this opportunity and has shown it repeatedly throughout his playing career and as a coach on our staff the past eight seasons. Jon is a rising star in our profession and Duke Basketball could not be in better hands in the future.”

    Following the announcement, the official Duke men’s basketball Twitter account posted an old autographed picture of Krzyzewski and a young Scheyer. Krzyzewski had written on the photograph, “To Jonathon Work Hard And Always Try Your Best!”

    Krzyzewski, a Naismith Hall of Fame coach who has 1,097 career wins at Duke, has taken the Blue Devils to the Final Four on 12 occasions. He has won 12 regular-season ACC championships and 15 conference tournament titles while producing 28 NBA lottery picks — and 41 first-round selections — over the years.

    Having five national titles puts him second only to former UCLA coach John Wooden, who won 10.

    “Mike’s been fantastic for the game of basketball,” retired North Carolina coach Roy Williams told reporters Wednesday after the Pro-Am for the Korn Ferry Tour stop in Raleigh, North Carolina. “… He’s been a good friend. He’s been a guy I’ve respected a great deal. He made everybody bring their A-game for years and years and years. … He’s just been phenomenal in everything he’s done.”

    Hired at Duke in May 1980, “Coach K” won national championships in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2015, while setting the men’s career coaching victories record in November 2011.

    LeBron James — and led it to Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and Rio de Janiero in 2016.

    “I can say without hesitation that Mike Krzyzewski is the greatest coach in the history of men’s college basketball,” said Price. “This is clearly demonstrated by his tremendous success at Duke — 1,170 career wins, five national championships, 15 ACC tournament and 12 ACC regular season titles — and his service to our country as the head coach of USA Basketball.

    “But the true measure of his excellence is more personal. It is in his resolute commitment to integrity, fairness, and inclusion; in his transformational impact on collegiate athletics and the Durham community; in the joy, generosity, and inspiration he has brought to countless fans; and in his role as guide and teacher of thousands of players, coaches, and staff at Duke and beyond.”

    Duke missed the NCAA tournament this past season for the first time since 1995, but the Blue Devils welcome one of the nation’s top recruiting classes for the coming season.

    Scheyer’s last season playing under Krzyzewski, in 2010, resulted in his mentor’s fourth NCAA title. Scheyer joined the Duke staff for the 2013-14 season and rose to his current role after the 2017-18 season.

    He served as interim coach last year for Duke when Krzyzewski was sidelined for a January win against Boston College due to COVID-19 protocols. Scheyer has never been a college head coach.

    “Cutting to the chase, Mike Krzyzewski is simply impossible to replace,” said White. “That said, Jon Scheyer is without a doubt the absolute perfect leader to assume this ‘high wire’ challenge. Jon truly embodies all the characteristics of a strong and determined leader, for he is highly empathetic, unequivocally task oriented, instinctively adaptable, flexible and situational, and roughly ‘six standard deviations’ beyond passionate, especially relative to the tremendous aspirations of Duke’s student-athletes. Furthermore, Jon fully understands all the immediate (evolving) challenges facing college athletics, and specifically college basketball.”

    The news about Krzyzewski comes almost two months to the day that Williams, another Hall of Famer in the state, announced his retirement after 33 seasons with Kansas and the Tar Heels.

    “The only thing wrong with Mike Krzyzewski is that he doesn’t play golf,” Williams told reporters Wednesday. “Michael doesn’t need Roy Williams giving him advice. He’s a great family man. He’s going to enjoy his family a great deal. He’ll still be important in college athletics. He’ll still be important to college basketball.”

    A news conference for Krzyzewski is planned for Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET, while one for Scheyer is set for Friday at 11 a.m.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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