Duke Blue Devils basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski to retire after season; Jon Scheyer named successor | #retirement | #elderly | #seniors
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, will 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.”
Duke associate head coach Jon Scheyer, who played for Krzyzewski from 2006 to 2010, has been named Krzyzewski’s successor. Scheyer will spend the 2021-22 season as coach-in-waiting and will take over after that.
“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. … 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, who was the lead recruiter of NBA star Jayson Tatum and Class of 2021 No. 3 prospect Paolo Banchero, was Duke’s choice to replace Krzyzewski, however.
“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!”
Dream big! 💙 pic.twitter.com/jeJkNhi8f4
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) June 2, 2021
Krzyzewski, a Naismith Memorial Basketball 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 March 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.
He has tailored his approach to adapt with the times and his personnel. He won the 2010 title with a senior-laden roster, then claimed the 2015 championship after pivoting to more one-and-done talent that headed to the NBA after a lone college season playing in Duke’s famously hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium.
His tally of 97 NCAA tournament wins ranks No. 1 among all coaches, as does his 126 weeks atop the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Overall, including his five seasons as head coach at Army at the beginning of his career, Krzyzewski has a 1,170-361 record.
Along the way, he also took over the U.S. men’s national team — with NBA All-Star rosters featuring names such as the late Kobe Bryant and LeBron James — and led it to Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“I can say without hesitation that Mike Krzyzewski is the greatest coach in the history of men’s college basketball,” Price said. “This is clearly demonstrated by his tremendous success at Duke … 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 welcomed one of the nation’s top recruiting classes for the coming season.
“To think that November may be the last time I ever coach against Mike Krzyzewski is hard to believe,” said Kentucky’s John Calipari, whose Wildcats are set to take on the Blue Devils at the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9. “For as long as I can remember, Coach K has been synonymous not only with Duke but with college basketball. His benchmark of excellence for nearly 50 years has pushed all of us.
“Personally, he has challenged me as a coach and a recruiter. We have competed against one another because that’s what we do as coaches, but the respect I have for Mike and all that he has done for our game and coaches goes so far beyond the battles we have had on the court over the years.”
Scheyer, whose last season playing under Krzyzewski resulted in his mentor’s fourth NCAA title in 2010, 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,” White said. “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. … 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 on 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.”
Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, a former Duke team captain who went on to become an assistant coach with the Blue Devils, said he also believes Krzyzewski is “someone that will still continue to give himself to the game, to his players, his support of Jon and the rest of their staff, the team and the university.”
“Obviously, it will be different not seeing him on the sideline, but I think you’ll see him and you’ll feel him in many of the same ways — just not as visibly,” Snyder said Wednesday, before his team played the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 5 of their first-round NBA playoff series.
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.
ESPN’s Nick Friedell and The Associated Press contributed to this report.