COLUMBIA — Missouri athletics director Mike Alden looked like a man who needed sleep. Later, even he would admit that the past few days have been running together. But as tired as he was, a smile stayed on his face as he made his announcement.
“We are excited that Frank Haith is our new basketball coach at the University of Missouri,” Alden said.
Frank Haith was an assistant coach for 15 years before taking a head coaching job with Miami. Here's his record during seven years with the Hurricanes:
2004-05 — 16-13
2005-06 — 18-16
2006-07 — 12-20
2007-08 — 23-11
2008-09 — 19-13
2009-10 — 20-13
2010-11 — 21-15
Haith is familiar with the Big 12 Conference, serving as an assistant coach at Texas A&M and Texas.
"I have known Frank Haith for a long time, and I truly believe he is one of the best coaches in the business. Missouri just made a great hire. Frank is one of the primary people responsible for the rise of our program here at Texas. He has all the skills necessary to build a successful program at the highest level." — Texas head coach Rick Barnes
Alden sat alone as he laid out the rough parameters of the five-year, $7.5 million contract that Haith agreed to before resigning as the head coach of the Miami men’s basketball team on Monday. The announcement called the curtain on the search for Missouri's 17th men's basketball coach that started when Mike Anderson left for Arkansas on March 23.
Before taking questions, Alden mentioned the qualifications that made Haith the only candidate to whom Missouri officially offered the position, despite last week's speculation about Matt Painter, who signed a new contract with Purdue.
First, Alden stressed academics.
“Graduating 21 out of 22 student athletes at the University Miami. That’s an unbelievable number and certainly exciting,” Alden said.
Then, he mentioned the need for a strong recruiter. Missouri has three open scholarship spots next season and will have six more the season after that. Haith proved his recruiting ability throughout his years as an assistant. He has recruited six McDonald’s All Americans over his career.
“I think with his work ethic, his connections and the experience he has, whether it's in the Big 12 footprint or nationally, he’s got to transfer that to the state of Missouri,” Alden said.
As Alden continued to work his way through his list, he noted a need for a strong mentor, a public face to the program and other key traits. Then he ended with his final qualification, the ability to win.
“Certainly with Frank, we believe we have found that,” Alden said. “No question about that.”
Cue the questions.
The questions were the same ones that had been flying since late Sunday evening when reports came out that Haith, a coach who was not expected to be on Missouri’s radar, had agreed to accept an offer from Alden and his search committee.
Alden said some of the negative backlash surprised him, but he attributed the reaction to a lack of information about Haith.
“When someone comes to the forefront that perhaps people weren’t looking at or identifying, it becomes a surprise to folks,” Alden said.
The reason for the concern is the record that follows Haith from Miami to Missouri: He went 129-101 overall at Miami and was 43-69 in the ACC.
According to Alden, Missouri can offer better resources and more options than Haith had as the coach of the Hurricanes. Combine that with the experience Haith has gathered during his seven year’s as Miami’s coach, and Alden said Haith should thrive.
“We believe that with all those skill sets, we put him in an environment with the type of resources we have, I think that there’s not a doubt he is going to be able to do that,” Alden said.
Alden said he knows his reputation is more on the line than Haith, a coach that many fans knew nothing about, but Alden seemed to shoulder the load confidently, saying he thinks it could be the last basketball coach he hires during his career.
He trusts his system of hiring. The same system, he will remind you, that produced Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel and softball coach Ehren Earleywine.
But Alden also understands those who want results, not promises. He told Haith the same thing.
“I told him this is the Show-Me State, and it is," Alden said. "This is who we are as a state.”
Haith won’t have to wait long for his first chance. He will be introduced as Missouri’s coach during a news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Mizzou Arena's Clinton Club.