Many were wondering if the day would be coming when Utah would make a change with the coaching with the men’s basketball team, and that change came on Tuesday. Mark Harlan announced that the program will be going in a new direction and will begin the search for new head coach for the Runnin’ Utes. There was some speculation on Twitter if this was a mutual decision, if Coach K resigned, or if he was terminated. Reading the press release that Harlan put out, it reads like a termination.
Regardless, this is a bitter sweet day, because Coach K did a ton for the program while he was in SLC. He helped rebuild it from a dumpster fire that Jim Boylen left, and go the program back to the Sweet 16, and had three straight first round NBA Draft picks. He also did a nice job getting some top talent in state, even if he did miss on some names. He got the program on very solid footing, but the program did seem to stall in the last handful of seasons. Under Krystkowiak the program had a hard time holding onto players, at a seemingly higher rate than average in the era of the transfer portal.
To me, it did seem like Coach K did have a harder time connecting with some players, and on the outside it did look like maybe he was getting a bit run down. I was wondering if maybe he would step down at some point, just because it seemed like he didn’t have the energy that he had early in his tenure, and after a decade, the changing face of college sports, and some health issues he’s had, I don’t blame him. I’m a big fan of Coach K, overall, because I always thought he ran the program the right way, he got it back on its feet, and he was genuine. He would shoot it to you straight, and he stood up for his kids. It just became more clear over the last year that his time on the hill was coming to an end.
The questions now are, of course, who is the next coach, and what happens to the young talent of this squad? There are a lot of very good pieces to build around, and there’s a lot of talent to work with, just hopefully it sticks around, and the program can find the next person to lead it to the next level.
Here’s the official statement from Harlan:
“Today, I informed Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Krystkowiak that I am making a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program. The decision comes after a thorough evaluation of the program—both on and off of the court—as I do with every head coach at the conclusion of their seasons. Ultimately, our program needs a new voice, a new vision and a new leader who can build upon Larry’s foundation and lead us to greater heights in the years ahead.
Larry has always been dedicated to our student-athletes, to our University and to the Salt Lake City community, and I am grateful for his decade of service to the University of Utah. In addition, he and his wife Jan have been incredibly generous in supporting University and community initiatives. I want to wish Larry, Jan and their family the very best.
The costs associated with this termination and the hiring of a new head coach and staff will be fully funded from athletically-generated resources. We will launch an immediate national search for a new head coach.”