Sports

Greg McDermott leaves Iowa State for Creighton basketball job

OMAHA — Iowa State's Greg McDermott is leaving the Big 12 to become the new men's basketball coach at Creighton.

Creighton sports information director Rob Anderson announced the news in a text message to members of the news media this afternoon, less than an hour after Oregon introduced former Creighton coach Dana Altman as its new coach. McDermott will be formally introduced during a news conference Tuesday.

McDermott led Northern Iowa to the NCAA Tournament three straight years before leaving for Iowa State in 2006. He has never had a winning season at Iowa State, where he made $900,000 last year and was signed through 2015. McDermott was due a $2.5 million buyout from Iowa State if he is fired.

At Creighton, McDermott inherits a program that was at or near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference for most of Altman's 16-year tenure.

The last three years, though, the Bluejays have gone from being a mid-major power to just another Missouri Valley team.

The Bluejays haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2007, and an 11-year streak of 20-win seasons ended this past season. After playing in the NIT in 2008-09, Creighton dropped to 18-16 in 2010 and accepted an invitation to the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

Some fans never forgave Altman for his sudden departure to Arkansas and even more sudden return to Omaha in April 2007. Less than 24 hours after leaving Creighton for Arkansas, he had a change of heart and was rehired.

A contrite Altman said then that he planned to retire from Creighton. Today, Oregon said it had signed the 51-year-old Altman to a seven-year deal that will pay him a guaranteed $1.8 million per year.

At the time of Altman's Arkansas decision, the Bluejays were enjoying unprecedented popularity in Omaha. They ranked among the top 15 nationally in attendance, at better than 15,000 fans a game at the Qwest Center, and had gone to the NCAA tournament seven times in 13 years.

McDermott is a former coach of the Bluejays' conference rival, Northern Iowa. His hiring at Iowa State was largely applauded in 2006, but he has not gotten the Cyclones moving the right direction. His four-year tenure includes a 59-68 record and the sudden departures of key contributors.

Wesley Johnson transferred to Syracuse following the 2007-08 season and went on to become the Big East Player of the Year and a likely lottery pick. German guard Lucca Staiger left the team in midseason to play professionally in his native country, and sophomores Justin Hamilton and Dominique Buckley and freshman Chris Colvin departed this spring.

McDermott appeared to be on shaky ground in March as the Cyclones sputtered toward yet another losing season, but athletic director Jamie Pollard publicly backed his now-former coach.

Iowa State was 15-17 last season.

Injuries to valuable reserves Charles Boozer and Jamie Vanderbeken stripped the team's depth by the time Big 12 play arrived. The Cyclones never had enough backcourt firepower to consistently hurt teams for focusing on Marquis Gilstrap and Craig Brackins, two frontcourt players.

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