|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
UNIVERSITY OF TULSA BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 18, 2014
DON TOMKALSKI:¬† Welcome to the University of Tulsa.¬† Today is a great day, great day outside, great day in here.¬† We'll set a couple ground rules first.¬† I will introduce the president, Derrick Gragg will talk, and then we will introduce the 30th head basketball coach of the University of Tulsa.¬† After their comments, we will ask for questions from the media for Coach, and then Coach and Stead and Derek will be available for one‑on‑ones.
At this time I'd like to introduce the President of the University of Tulsa, Dr.Steadman Upham.
STEADMAN UPHAM:¬† Thank you, Don.¬† Thank you very much.¬† Don is right, this is a very big day in the history of TU basketball.¬† It really marks a different chapter for us.
14 days ago we woke up in the morning and learned that Danny Manning was going to take the Wake Forest job, and for the last 14 days Derrick Gragg, Dr.Gragg and I have been pretty much consumed by the search.¬† It's been a great process.¬† I want to thank the press for their patience but not their speculation, but we know that that goes with the territory.
Before I get into what I want to say, I have some people to thank.¬† I would like to begin by thanking Glenn Sugiyama, who is executive vice president of DHR International.¬† Glenn helped us with the search every step of the way, a great source and resource.
I'd like to thank former trustee Joe Craft, who is continuing as a very strong TU supporter, for his valuable advice and help.
I'd also like to thank TU alum Mark Marra and his wife Cinda.¬† I don't think Mark was able to be here today, but thank them both.
I really want to thank the board of trustees, chairman Duane Wilson, who was a confidante and thought partner as we went through this process.
And last but not least, I want to thank my partner Dr.Derrick Gragg, who has just been terrific to work with through this whole process.
The context of this search was different than any search that we have undertaken since I've been president, and there are a number of reasons for it.¬† When Danny left, and I should say we wish Danny very well.¬† He did great work for us.¬† He's a very quality person, and I know he'll do well at Wake.
But when Danny left, what he left us was core of an extraordinarily talented team.¬† It's a young team, and for those of us that watched them through the season, it is self‑evident that they know how to play together.¬† They learned how to play together this year, and as a result, in the NCAA appearance, we have a great platform upon which to build.
Importantly, we're going into a new conference.¬† This is nothing new for TU.¬† We've been in three conferences since I've been president.¬† But it's different this time.¬† It's very different.¬† We're going into the AAC in basketball.¬† It is a talented league, probably perennial four‑ or five‑bid league in the NCAA Tournament, and oh, by the way, we also have a national champion in our conference.
This is an opportunity for high‑profile basketball at the University of Tulsa.¬† Like some of you who have been here a long time are accustomed to, and it's a true opportunity to step up and compete at the highest level.¬† I think all of you know that one of my mantras is that whatever we do at TU we do at the highest level, and this is a golden opportunity.
As Dr.Gragg and I sat down to think about the search, we really made a list of what our perfect candidate looked like.¬† Well, the ideal candidate would be a sitting head coach at a D‑1 school.¬† He would have a winning record, especially over the last three years at the same University.¬† He would have significant NCAA and other post‑season basketball experience.¬† He'd be a coach who knew what it was like to change conferences.¬† And lastly, up‑tempo style of play that is so much favored by our fans.
We talked to many head coaches.¬† We had serious conversations with some, but there was only one coach that met all of these criteria, and I'm very pleased that he's with us today with his beautiful family, and to introduce him, let me introduce Dr.Derrick Gragg.
DERRICK GRAGG:¬† People have been using this line, it is a great day for TU athletics, and I want to welcome you here on behalf of the athletic department.¬† I want to thank some people, too, starting with the young men in the back of the room, the basketball student athletes, and I really relate to them because during my senior year as a student athlete, we had a coaching change, and it's always difficult, and it affects them more than anybody.
So what we did was we promised them that we'd go out and try to find the best possible coach in the country to come in and build on the success that they've put together, and that's exactly what we did.
I also want to thank Glenn because Glenn is one of the best in the business, and I would never embark on a search like this without having a person like that involved.¬† He's very good at what he does, has a lot of connections, and his relationships, they run deep, so I appreciate that.
And then also, of course, I want to thank the president, because a lot of people know in college athletics, you can't make these decisions by yourself, and you shouldn't, and so for big guys like us, it's hard to cram onto those little bitty planes and fly across the country and see people, but we did that, and I appreciate him and his support.
Now, for the man of the hour, as we'll call him.¬† A lot of people always ask what is the criteria, and Stead went over some of the criteria.¬† I always talk about the four Ps of hiring a head coach, and the first one is the profile.¬† That is who are we looking for, what do we want, and Stead talked about a sitting Division I head coach.¬† And I also like experience, and Frank has over 30 years of coaching experience, and so that's very key, and he's been very successful everywhere he's been.
The second one is pedigree; what is a person's background, where have they been, where do they hail from, and he's worked for some of the greats in basketball, and being at Wake Forest, he's been at Penn State, he's been at Texas and Texas A&M, and I don't know how he pulled that off, but that's good, too.¬† And just worked for some great people, and he's a winner.¬† Dave Odom and Rick Barnes, and Rick Barnes speaks very, very highly of this gentleman.
And then the third P is performance.¬† What has the person done?¬† And it's clich√©, but basically his numbers speak for themselves, they really do.¬† And being even as an assistant coach and being at those institutions, Penn State, Wake Forest, Texas, he's been to the NCAA Tournament numerous times, been to the Sweet 16, he's been to the Final Four, and then finally as a head coach, obviously the success that he's had at Miami and the University of Missouri, and 76‑28 in the last three years. ¬†That's not bad.
So he has all those things, and then the last P in our business, you have to have passion, because I've put 21 years into this field and into young men and young women, and things don't always go our way, and a person has to have passion to get up and do this day in and day out because we don't win all the time.¬† I appreciate his passion, I appreciate the way that he connects with young men and student athletes, and I think that you'll see that as we go along on this journey.
Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I want to introduce to you our newest head men's basketball coach, Mr.Frank Haith.
FRANK HAITH:¬† What a whirlwind.¬† What a whirlwind.¬† It's Good Friday.¬† Got a lot of things to be blessed for.¬† Before I get to some comments, I want to introduce my family.¬† They're very special to me, obviously, and if I get a little emotional talking about my family because I don't think as a coach‑‑ well, coaches, we understand, you can't do your job without your family.¬† My son Corey, who's a sophomore on our basketball team, tore his ACL.¬† He's 20 years old.¬† My daughter Brianna, who's nine years old and she's a competitive dancer, and my lovely wife Pam, who we've been married for 25 years, and she's my rock.
First I'd like to thank Dr.Upham and Dr.Gragg for their leadership and for their confidence in me to lead their program.¬† It's truly a blessing.¬† I can tell you that this happened really quick, and these things do happen quick.¬† When I looked at the Tulsa job and looked at the past of this program, and you talk about guys like Nolan Richardson, you talk about guys like Tubby Smith, guys like Bill Self and the success they've had at this program, that's why I'm interested in this program.¬† That's why I'm here.
And joining a conference, and Dr.Upham mentioned this, but this is my transition for me, when I went to the ACC, when I went to Miami, we were just moving to a new conference, also.¬† We were just transitioning from the Big East to the ACC.
During my time at Missouri, my first year we were in the Big 12 and then we were transitioning to the SEC.¬† So this is nothing new for me in terms of transitioning to a new league.¬† I think we have a great nucleus here in terms of our personnel.¬† I met with these young men last night, and they're great people.¬† Over my 28 years of coaching, I've been a part of some coaching some really good players, but the most important thing, you want to have great kids.
As a coach, we want to teach them how to play basketball, there's no question that's important, how to dribble, how to work on their skills.¬† But my proudest moments, and we've won some games, we've beat Kansas, won at North Carolina through my career, but my most proudest moments are the fact that we graduated 34 out of 36 individuals during my time as a head coach.¬† That's what I'm most proud of, because for these young men, I would hope that when they leave the University of Tulsa, they think they feel like Frank Haith taught them more than how to dribble a basketball, he taught them life skills, and that's extremely important to me and that's what we're going to do here at the University of Tulsa.
I spoke to a lot of people upon looking into this job and receiving this job, one being Paul Pressey.¬† I coached his son at the University of Missouri.¬† And the rubber man, right?¬† That's what they used to call him.¬† He spoke so highly of the community here and how passionate this fan base was, and that really truly excites me because as a coach that's where you want to be.¬† You want to be where there's passion.
I also want to thank the University of Missouri and Mike Alden and his great leadership, and during my time there he was absolutely incredible to me.
I want to thank the student athletes that are still there at University of Missouri.¬† That was the toughest thing for me to leave those young men.¬† These transitions are hard, and sitting in front of them yesterday and talking to them, I did have a chance to visit with the guys before I got on a plane yesterday, and I talked to them about decisions that I was going to have to make and that I was coming to Tulsa, and I thought it was important that I let them know because I think that the worst thing is for things to start hovering over the internet, and I talked to them about I would let them know once I decided.
I did that this morning, as I did with Mike Alden.¬† I tried to reach out to him last night.¬† We did not connect via the phone but we did text this morning.¬† It was really tough for me to leave Missouri.¬† It had to take a place like this for me to leave Missouri because I had a great experience there.¬† My wife, my daughter, my son love Columbia, and the fans were really, really good to me at the University.
The last thing I would like to touch on before I give you a chance to ask me questions, the elephant in the room is the NCAA thing.¬† I've seen you guys write about it a little bit.¬† I will tell you this:¬† That was the most taxing time in my career going through that process at the University of Missouri.¬† Think about this:¬† When I took over that job, I was only there for about two months and this comes out.¬† They don't really know me.¬† And it was really, really emotional for me and my family to go through that, and it lasted three years, and you can imagine how hard that was for us.
I take full responsibility for the things that happened under my watch, and I served my five games for that.¬† I wanted to appeal the process.¬† My legal counsel did want to appeal the process, but we chose not to do that because we wanted to move forward.¬† The University, I thought that was best for the University, our players, our program, and my family, and that's why we chose not to do so.
With that said, I'm here to talk about our experience we're going to have here at the University of Tulsa and the foundation we're trying to build here and how excited we are to be here and being a part of your family.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
FRANK HAITH:¬† I got a call from Mike Alden Thursday that he had been contacted by Tulsa, and from that point on, once there was written permission, we were in conversation on Thursday.
Q.¬† So Mike Alden gets called, but had you somehow let it be known‑‑ why would Derrick Gragg think‑‑ he must have had some assurance in advance.
DERRICK GRAGG:¬† That's why we hired the search firm.¬† Again, in having been involved with a lot of different searches over the past 20 years, it takes a professional like this who has the personal relationships that he has to help steer us through the process, and that's basically the answer to that.
Q.¬† You mentioned one of the reasons you thought Tulsa was a good job, why it passed muster, other guys that have been through here.¬† Why was that such a meaningful thing for you, because usually Tulsa finds itself being a stepping‑stone, and I don't want to say it's the reverse, but what makes that such a big deal for you?
FRANK HAITH:¬† I think the Atlantic Conference is a big part of that, too, the league they're joining.¬† You look at UConn in terms of winning a national championship, Memphis and Cincinnati, all great programs.¬† I think they have a TV contract with ESPN.¬† I think Tulsa has now made a commitment, obviously, in terms of the league they're joining.
I think it's got one of the best chances to be one of the best basketball teams in the country.
Q.¬† Can you explain the thought process of leaving the Missouri job and coming here?¬† Did someone call you and say the Tulsa job was open?
FRANK HAITH:¬† Well, I'll tell you, I love Missouri.¬† I had a great experience.¬† I did not have to leave Missouri.¬† To me, you want to work for good people.¬† I worked for great people at the University of Missouri.¬† There was no question that was important to me here.¬† There is a commitment here, folks, and I'll just say that to you.¬† There is a tremendous commitment here to have a championship program and to continue the legacy of what's been here before.
Q.¬† Is the job you have now better than the one you left when you consider everything?
FRANK HAITH:¬† I think it's got a chance to be a great job.¬† I'm excited about where I'm at.¬† You know, I've coached at small private schools before.¬† I like that setting.¬† I've coached at University of Miami, a small private school, not as small as this, but Wake Forest is surely as small as this if not smaller, so I've had experiences being at private school, private institutions with small class sizes.¬† I think those things are all exciting when you're trying to recruit.¬† I think the kids like the ability to be in a small class setting.
There's a lot of positives here.¬† I think you're looking at the community here, so there's a lot of good things here in terms of us as a coach, you want to be able to sell your program.¬† I think this is a great selling place.
Q.¬† The financial resources here are not what they were at Missouri or in the SEC.¬† Did you get any kind of assurance for anything here beyond the salary?
FRANK HAITH:¬† We talked about that a lot, and that was a big part of our discussions on Thursday in terms of the commitment.¬† I don't know if, Derrick, you want to talk about having a new academic advisor that's going to be traveling with us.¬† We talked about chartering flights, and that's what I mean when I say there's a tremendous commitment here.¬† Those are things that I don't know if have been done in the past, but we got into those discussions at length on Thursday, and I'm very confident that that commitment is here, and that's the only way, when you take that next step up, which we are, you have to have that kind of commitment.
Q.¬† When they gave you a phone call on Thursday, did you do any scouting of this school as far as the team is concerned?¬† You had a chance to meet them last night, obviously.
FRANK HAITH:¬† Well, I think we've got a chance to have an outstanding ballclub.¬† I think Dr.Upham talked about that a little bit earlier in terms of a great nucleus, a lot of juniors, rising sophomores that are going to be juniors next year that were a big part of the success of this team.
The things I like about this team in looking at them, I guess we can talk about my style of play, how I want to play.¬† I'm a spread pick‑and‑roll.¬† Where you look at what we've done offensively over the last 10 years, I think you can see that we get up and down.¬† We're very aggressive in attacking.¬† I like our guard play.¬† I think we've got tremendous guards that can play pick‑and‑roll basketball, and that's how we're going to play, up tempo.¬† Defensively we want to get out and pressure the ball.¬† We also want to play some zone.¬† I don't think we want to be one‑‑ I like changing defenses.¬† But I think from a personnel standpoint, watching these guys, and I've got a lot of tape on them.¬† When I first started conversation with these gentlemen yesterday, I started watching tape on these guys, and I liked what I saw.¬† I think we have a chance, obviously making a step up, but these guys, they won because they played well together, and that's a huge step in the right direction in terms of what we can do, I think, in the next level.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
STEADMAN UPHAM:¬† The way you guys are talking about Tulsa, you're starting to hurt my feelings.¬† (Laughter.)
The academic piece that's being talked about here entered into the conversation in this search primarily through the media.¬† There's been no talk on campus of changing academic standards, changing admission standards.¬† Everything remains the same.¬† And I want to be clear about that because it's a conversation that's been repeated and repeated, but that is absolutely false.¬† It did not originate from us, and just rest assured TU is going to stay TU.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
STEADMAN UPHAM:¬† We add degree programs routinely, engineering physics, a whole range of programs that fit the profile and curriculum of the University.¬† Majors for athletes, no, we don't do that here.
Q.¬† Has there been discussion about a sports management major?
STEADMAN UPHAM:¬† No, zero.¬† We have a sports marketing professor, but we do not have a sports management program.¬† Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that because I think it could be harmful to the reputation of the University, as is the way you guys are talking about it.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
FRANK HAITH:¬† Yeah, there's no question that's extremely important.¬† I think any time‑‑ especially when you're partaking in a new challenge and you're getting to know your student athletes, it's tough on that first meeting, obviously, and I think those guys will tell you, it was tough on our first meeting, too.¬† It wasn't easy.¬† But they did buy in as well as winning 30 games that year.
You know, from my impression of those young men last night, it was a very casual meeting.¬† I was very impressed with their disposition, how they carried themselves, how they spoke, and it's exciting because I think they all really want to win.¬† They want to do things the right way.
Q.¬† Whether it's administration, fans, (inaudible) does that weigh on you at all?
FRANK HAITH:¬† I had great support at Missouri.¬† We set an attendance record my second year there in the Missouri Arena, the most they've ever had in Missouri Arena.¬† I felt like we had great support there.¬† Obviously this past year we won 23 games, we were 23 and 12, and we were probably one game away from getting back to the tournament again, but we had some great wins.¬† We won at Arkansas for the first time in the history of the school.¬† By the way, we're going to try to get Mike Anderson to come over here and play us.¬† People talk about the rivalry Mike and I have, but we'd like to keep it going, Michael.
Q.¬† What was the beef?
FRANK HAITH:¬† There was no beef, I'm just joking.¬† I talked to him this morning, too, so don't write that.
Q.¬† (Inaudible) and they like to play fast.¬† How does that make you adjust your coaching style a little bit in the first year to accommodate the plan?
FRANK HAITH:¬† You know, we want to play a winning style, and I think I said that when we took over at Missouri.¬† I think that's one thing‑‑ I've worked with some really good coaches, great coaches, Rick Barnes, Dave Odom, Tony Barone, who I spoke with today.¬† One thing that Rick Barnes taught me is great coaches adjust to your personnel, okay.¬† I will tell you how I want to play, and that's how I want to play is up‑tempo, but if our personnel doesn't allow us to play that way to win, do we force feed it?¬† I'm probably going to want to play up‑tempo, so that's the way I want to play.¬† But I also want to win.¬† Being able to adjust I think is extremely important, and I think good coaches do that.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
FRANK HAITH:¬† Yeah, thank you.¬† I want to introduce Dave Leitao, who's with me as one of my assistants.¬† Dave and I, and some of you guys may remember the name, Dave was a head coach at University of Virginia.¬† He also was a head coach at DePaul.¬† He and I competed against each other in the ACC, he was the ACC Coach of the Year, he won the league one year, Atlantic Coast Conference.¬† You talked about pedigree earlier; he was also assistant at UConn.¬† What year did you guys win the national championship?¬† In '99.
So he's here; I'm going to bring him along with me.¬† Todor Pandov, my strength coach.¬† He played professionally, graduated from Western Kentucky.¬† He's been with me for about six years now, and he's our strength coach.¬† He's good for the guys, and the reason he's here is because he's as important a guy on my staff as anybody.
Q.¬† Is there anybody on the staff currently that you can say right away that you're going to keep?
FRANK HAITH:¬† We're going to talk to some folks.¬† I'm going to try to bring as many guys on my staff from Missouri here, and then I will visit with some folks.
Q.¬† Did you talk to your recruits that you were recruiting?
FRANK HAITH:¬† At Missouri?¬† I have not.¬† I have not.¬† I just wanted to stay away from that, obviously, and just try to get here and figure out what we're going to do here.
Q.¬† How much of a priority looking forward is remaining the Tulsa‑‑
FRANK HAITH:¬† That's the most important thing obviously is getting to know our guys, and I told them that.¬† We've got to spend time.¬† I'm a relationship guy.¬† Before we talk about recruiting other student athletes, we've got to recruit the ones that are in our program.¬† We were very fortunate to do a good job of that when we took over at Missouri, and we had success by doing that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports