LaVall Jordan set to coach at Butler
Former Iowa assistant lands at alma mater
INDIANAPOLIS — LaVall Jordan is getting another chance to make his imprint at Butler.
The Bulldogs’ former star player, who started his coaching career at his alma mater, was hired Monday as Butler’s new head coach. Athletic director Barry Collier made the announcement Monday night after word got out that Jordan had agreed to take the job.
The 38-year-old Jordan replaces Chris Holtmann, who left for Ohio State last week. He is scheduled to be introduced on Wednesday.
Jordan went 11-24 at Milwaukee last season, his first as a head coach. But he led the Panthers to a surprising appearance in the Horizon League Tournament championship, where they had a chance to become the team with the most losses to ever make the NCAA Tournament field.
“LaVall is a tremendous coach who exemplifies The Butler Way,” Collier said in a statement.
“He has played a major role in successful programs that have competed at the highest levels. LaVall also has a deep appreciation for our university and this program, and will recruit and develop young men who will represent Butler well.”
Collier should know: He recruited Jordan and coached him for three seasons before leaving for Nebraska.
Now Jordan, a Michigan native, takes over a program that has gone from one of America’s darlings to one of college basketball’s most consistent postseason teams.
Since 2007, the Bulldogs have made the NCAA field eight times, reached the Sweet 16 four times and finished as the national runner-up in 2010 and 2011. And they’ve continued to win despite having four coaches since 2013.
Jordan nearly got his dream job that year when Brad Stevens left to take the Boston Celtics job.
Instead, Collier chose to stay in-house by hiring former Butler star Brandon Miller. He left after one season for personal reasons.
Holtmann stepped in as interim coach just before the start of 2014-15 and later had the interim tag dropped as he led the Bulldogs back to the first of three straight NCAA appearances in his first season as coach.
But Jordan never gave up hope.
“This is a dream come true,” Jordan said. “Butler is a place that means so much to me and my family, and I am honored and humbled to lead this storied program. I want to thank President (James) Danko and Barry Collier for the faith they have placed in me to continue The Butler Way and our great success.”
Jordan is the first head coach to be hired from outside Butler’s program since Collier, then a Stanford assistant, returned to the suburban Indianapolis campus in 1989.
But, like Collier, Jordan has long ties to the university.
In 2001, after being selected as the MVP of the Midwestern College Conference Tourney, he helped lead Butler to its first NCAA Tourney win in nearly 40 years.
Jordan returned as director of basketball operations — a proving ground for a series of future Butler head coaches — in 2003-04.
He was promoted to assistant coach the next season and stayed in that post until leaving with Todd Lickliter for Iowa in 2007. He left Iowa following 2009-10 and landed a spot on John Beilein’s staff at Michigan, where he stayed until taking the Milwaukee job last spring.
“Wow congrats to LaVall Jordan no one more deserving of that job…might have to be a butler fan now,” former Michigan star Caris LeVert wrote on Twitter.
Collier also reportedly interviewed two of Holtmann’s assistants, Terry Johnson and Ryan Pedon. Celtics assistant Micah Shrewsbury, who worked on Stevens’ staff at Butler, also was reportedly under consideration.
One of Holtmann’s assistants has already accepted a job on the Buckeyes’ staff, and it’s unclear if Johnson and Pedon will follow Holtmann to Ohio State.
Panthers athletic director Amanda Braun said the search for Jordan’s successor will begin immediately. Assistant coach Todd Townsend, who was on Marquette’s 2003 Final Four team, played for and worked under then-coach Tom Crean.
“Even though the time we had together was short, we are proud to have brought in a coach that embodies such character and a great sense of leadership,” Braun said in a statement.
“He has been an integral part of setting the building blocks in place for the success of our program. We are confident we will continue to build on his success and look forward to the future.”