Central Missouri’s Kim Anderson landed his dream job Monday when Missouri hired him as Tigers’ 18th men’s basketball coach.
Anderson, a former MU player and assistant who coached the Central Missouri to the NCAA Division II national championship last month, will be officially introduced at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Central Missouri freshman Kyle Wolf told The Star that Anderson became “really emotional” when he met with the Mules on Monday to say he’d accepted the job.
“We had a feeling it was coming. He deserves it,” said Wolf, a Rockhurst graduate, who added that he and his teammates clapped for Anderson when he shared the news.
Anderson, 58 and a Sedalia native, has strong ties to the Missouri basketball program’s glory years under Norm Stewart, who retired in 1999. Anderson interviewed to be Stewart’s replacement, but Alden hired Quin Snyder instead.
Fifteen years later, Alden reached back into Missouri’s past as a guide for its future.
“Obviously, I’m humbled and appreciative and feel privileged to be able to do this,” Anderson said Monday night during an interview that aired on Missouri’s athletics website.
Of course, Anderson would be naïve to think there won’t be challenges. He inherits a roster whose top returning scorer averaged 5.8 points and he’s a rookie head coach at the Division I level who turns 59 next month.
Still, MU athletic director Mike Alden believed the native son was the right fit at this moment for the Tigers.
“We are pleased and excited to have Kim Anderson leading our program,” Alden said in a news release announcing the hire. “He’s a man of great character, integrity and respect. He has demonstrated the ability to mentor young men on and off the court, academically and socially.”
Anderson played for Stewart during 1973-77 and helped power the Tigers’ first conference championship in the Big Eight. As a senior, he was the conference player of the year after averaging 18.3 points and 7.9 rebounds.
Stewart told The Star on Monday that he was thrilled to hear Anderson was hired.
“I know he’ll do a great job,” Stewart said.
After a five-year professional career, Anderson returned to Missouri as a graduate assistant on Stewart’s staff during 1982-85. He spent the next six seasons as an assistant for Gene Iba at Baylor. Anderson returned to Missouri again as Stewart’s full-time assistant from 1991-99.
Now, he’s coming back again, replacing Frank Haith, who left for Tulsa last week.
A source with strong ties to Missouri was told before the search started that Alden wanted no leaks during the process, and Missouri did a remarkable job keeping it under wraps.
Anderson was the only publicly known candidate through the weekend as the Board of Curators got ready to approve a contract at 1 p.m. Monday. After a one hour and 20 minute closed executive session, the curators adjourned and gave no comment. About 40 minutes later, MU announced Anderson had been hired.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall also was contacted about the job. His agent said Monday that Marshall met with Alden and “was very impressed with Mike’s vision and leadership and with the potential of the Missouri basketball program” but that the timing was off to even consider leaving the Shockers.
Marshall, who took Wichita State to the Final Four in 2013 and received a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed last season, has a top-10 caliber team returning and a son who’s entering his senior year in high school, the agent said. Marshall also made more than $2 million last season including incentives.
Anderson made $150,000 as the Mules’ coach in 2012-13, according to state records. Frank Haith made $1.7 million in his final season at MU.
Aside from Marshall, it’s unclear what other potential candidates, such as former UCLA and Pitt coach Ben Howland, were contacted by MU, though Louisiana Tech’s Michael White reportedly withdrew his name from consideration.
Missouri used the services of Collegiate Sports Associates Executive Search and Consulting during the hiring process. Under the terms of the contract, obtained Monday morning by The Star, MU is required to pay Collegiate Sports $42,500 plus expenses upon Anderson’s introduction.
Anderson interviewed as Stewart’s replacement in 1999 but wasn’t believed to be a serious candidate for the job. After three seasons as the Big 12’s director of basketball operations and later an assistant commissioner, Anderson returned to coaching in 2002 at Central Missouri.
“We knew then that Kim was an excellent coach and the desire to return to coaching was in his blood,” Big 12 senior associate commissioner Tim Allen said.
During 12 seasons, the Mules are 274-95, including three 30-win seasons and three trips to the Division II Final Four. Anderson won the Division II coach of the year award this year.
Central Missouri athletic director Jerry Hughes thanked Anderson for his contributions to the program and said he would move quickly to find a replacement.
“I had a good conversation with Mike Alden late last week when he asked permission to talk to him and told him what I thought of Kim. Obviously we kept the lid on it. They asked us to, and we respected that,” Hughes told The Star. “I knew as of late last night, he had a really good shot. But nothing is final until it’s final. Until the board voted today, anything can happen.
“He will bring back a lot of the money people to Missouri basketball. He’s so connected. He knows everyone in the state. He can’t go anywhere in the state where people don’t know him.”
Anderson, a 6-foot-7 forward, ranks No. 24 with 1,289 career points and is a member of the school and state halls of fame. While on Stewart’s staff at Missouri, Anderson was part of two Big Eight regular-season championships in 1983 and 1994, the 1993 Big Eight Tournament championship team and six NCAA Tournament teams, including an Elite Eight run in 1994.
“He is Missouri basketball when you think about it,” ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “He grew up an hour from campus and he’s Missouri basketball through and through — from being a great high school player in the state, to being a tremendous player at Missouri in the old Big Eight days, to being part of Norm’s staff.”
The Star’s Vahe Gregorian, Blair Kerkhoff and Sam McDowell contributed to this report