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UMass hires Matt McCall as new men’s basketball coach

  • Chattanooga coach Matt McCall reacts during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., in November, ap file photo

  • Chattanooga coach Matt McCall reacts during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., in November. ap file photo

  • Chattanooga head coach Matt McCall watches his team during practice ahead of a first-round men’s college basketball game in the 2016 NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. ap file photo



For The Recorder
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

UMass has a new basketball coach in time for the Final Four.

UMass announced Wednesday that Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, who was on campus Wednesday, will be the new men’s basketball coach. He will be introduced at a 5 p.m. press conference Thursday.

“It is my pleasure to welcome Matt McCall and his family to the University of Massachusetts,” athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career. He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men. Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

McCall is expected to receive a five-year contract. Terms haven’t been disclosed yet. He signed an extension at Chattanooga last year bringing his salary to $232,000. UMass will likely pay a buyout for him to break his contract.

“My family and I always said it would take something extremely special to move us away from Chattanooga and that’s what we have here at UMass,” McCall said in a statement. “The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference, but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn't be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

Completing the search allows McCall to go to the coaching convention at the Final Four, where new coaches often interview and hire prospective staff members. The convention begins Friday.

McCall just completed his second season at Chattanooga, where he took over for former VCU and current LSU coach Will Wade.

McCall will replace Derek Kellogg, who was fired after nine seasons on March 9 hours after UMass was eliminated in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

McCall, who will be the program’s 22nd head coach, was 48-18 in two seasons and led the Mocs to the 2016 Southern Conference Championship and the NCAA tournament.

The 35-year-old Florida alum was a student manager in Gainesville and was hired by then-coach Billy Donovan as the director of basketball operations. He spent three years under Mike Jarvis at Florida Atlantic in his first assistant coaching position before returning to Donovan’s staff from 2011-2015.

McCall is originally from Ocala, Florida, the same hometown as former UMass guard Freddie Riley.

While this is Bamford’s first men’s basketball hire at UMass, it comes from familiar territory. Four of the last five Minuteman coaches (the exception is Steve Lappas) came from either John Calipari’s coaching tree — Bruiser Flint and Derek Kellogg — or Rick Pitino’s coaching tree – Travis Ford and McCall – as McCall worked for Donovan, a Pitino protégé. The coach before that run was Calipari himself.

Hiring a young coach from a southern school with a recent NCAA tournament trip shows that Bamford wasn’t scared off by the Pat Kelsey experience. Kelsey, the head coach at Winthrop, has a similar, albeit slightly longer resume than McCall’s. He accepted the job at UMass last week but then reneged shortly before his introductory press conference. Unlike Kelsey, McCall visited UMass before his hiring was announced. His wife Allison is from Long Island. They have two daughters.

After Kelsey withdrew, UMass interviewed Boston Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry and former UMass walk-on Dwayne Killings, who is currently an assistant coach at Connecticut.