AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – You’re fired. It’s never easy to hear, no matter how much money you have made. After nine seasons Derek Kellogg will be replaced on the bench as the head coach at UMass. Athletic Director Ryan Bamford said he just about made up his mind a month ago, “by the middle of February I really felt like we were going backwards,” said Bamford. The final straw, a disappointing loss against St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic Ten tournament on Thursday, where the Minutemen were never in the game.
Springfield native, Cathedral High School grad, UMass point guard during the Calipari golden years. After a stint from 2000-2008 under Coach Cal at Memphis, Kellogg was hired to take over his alma mater. The hometown guy coming in to resurrect the Minutemen back again to national prominence. Kellogg replaced Travis Ford, who always felt like he had one foot out the door. Kellogg felt like and believed he would want to stay and rebuild his own UMass program.
UMass is Back, Trip to the Big Dance
In his 4th season (2011-2012), UMass won 25 games and reached the NIT Semifinals. A year later another 21 win season and a trip back to the NIT. Then in 2013-14, Kellogg appeared to get the Minutemen back on the national stage. 24-9 record, ranked as high as #12 in the nation and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
As UMass waited for their NCAA Tournament game against Tennessee, something happened. Duke lost. Mercer upset the Blue Devils. All of a sudden, a trip to the Sweet Sixteen seemed like a reality. That was until Tennessee stomped UMass 86-67.
The Steady Decline
It has been a slow and steady decline in the program in the three years since. Records of 17-15, 14-18 and 15-18. In his nine seasons, Kellogg never had his UMass teams finish any higher than 5th place in the Atlantic Ten.
Derek Kellogg was the top paid public employee in Massachusetts. He was the only person to make more than $1 million. He has been paid $6,172,653 so far by the state in his nine seasons.
UMass will pay Kellogg another $1.6 Million over the next two years not to coach for them. If Kellogg receives another basketball job, the amount he makes will be deducted from the buyout.
Will there be a mass exodus?
Coach Kellogg did bring in his highest rated recruiting class this season. High hopes for the future, but many times when a coach leaves, his players also bounce.
“Transfers are something that happens in division one basketball, and we’re going to do our best to try and retain all the guys on the team” said UMass Athletic Director Ryan Bamford.
It was Bamford’s decision to fire Kellogg. “We just needed more consistent results,” said Bamford.
National Search Begins
Bamford says the national search begins now and he hopes to hire the next head coach by the end of March.
UMass retained Folger Consulting to help with the search. Eddie Folger is a former head coach at Wichita State, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. The fee for Folger’s services is $25,000 something Bamford says will be paid with private money received through restricted gifts.
Bamford explained that they need to hire a consulting firm because it allows Eddie Folger in this case to be the middle man in any conversations with coaches currently under contract.
Bamford ultimately will make the hiring decision. “Eddie’s role is to coordinate the process, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what the next coach profile will look like. If this next coach succeeds or fails that’s on me, not on Eddie,” said Bamford.
Bamford said he is open to both coaches with head coaching experience and assistant coaches. The pay will be similar to what Kellogg made, $800K – $900K per year, but with bonuses for winning. “Obviously we’ll have some bonus structure in there, I want to create something where the next person has the ability to make money on success and tie it to our success. Bamford expects the new coach to sign a 5 year contract.
These are purely speculative
Brian Gregory, former head coach at Georgia Tech when Bamford was a senior Associate Director. Gregory is currently a consultant at Michigan State.
Chad Dollar, current assistant at Auburn. Dollar was an assistant at Georgia Tech when Bamford was there. The African-American has never been a head coach.
Tom Herrion, another former Georgia Tech Assistant. Herrion was born and raised in Oxford, Massachusetts. He has head coaching experience and is currently an assistant at TCU.
Niko Medved, current coach at Furman. Furman was a Fogler client. Furman won the Southern Conference regular season title this season.
Craig Smith, head coach at South Dakota. South Dakota was another Fogler client. He was a former assistant at Nebraska and Colorado State. South Dakota won the Summit League in the regular season.
John Becker, current coach at Vermont. The Catamounts won the America East and are 28-5 this season.
Kermit Davis, current coach at Middle Tennessee State. Davis has been there since 2002, but has won 24 or more games in 5 of the last six seasons. He only makes $500,000, so a move up to a larger conference and a big pay bump might be worth a phone call?