UMass fires men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg; AD Ryan Bamford: ‘Higher level of competitive success expected’

  • UMass head coach Derek Kellogg works the sidelines during his team’s regular-season home finale against Richmond, March 1 at the Mullins Center. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • UMass head men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg, pictured here against at a March 1 home game at the Mullins Center, was fired Thursday after nine season. Gazette file photo

  • UMass head coach Derek Kellogg works the sidelines during his team’s regular-season home finale against Richmond, March 1 at the Mullins Center. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts men’s basketball head coach Derek Kellogg, pictured during the regular-season finale against Richmond March 1, was fired after the team’s loss in the Atlantic 10 tournament Thursday.

  • UMass head coach Derek Kellogg works the sidelines during his team’s regular-season home finale against Richmond, March 1 at the Mullins Center. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • UMass head coach Derek Kellogg works the sidelines during his team’s regular-season home finale against Richmond, March 1 at the Mullins Center. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • UMass head coach Derek Kellogg works the sidelines during his team’s regular-season home finale against Richmond, March 1 at the Mullins Center. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

@MattVautourDHG
Published: 3/9/2017 6:20:31 PM

PITTSBURGH — Nine years ago, Derek Kellogg called UMass his dream job. Now it’s his former job.

UMass’ season ended Thursday with a 73-60 loss to St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 Tournament second round.

UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford informed Kellogg of his decision and made the announcement via a press release shortly after the game.

“I want to thank Derek for his unwavering commitment to UMass basketball as both a student-athlete and our head coach,” Bamford said. “Derek will always be a Minuteman and we wish him and his family well in the future.”

UMass has hired Fogler Consulting, led by former South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler, to assist it in the search process.

“I am confident that our ranking as a top public research university, coupled with our considerable financial investment in the men’s program, including the new state-of-the-art John F. Kennedy Champions Center, will attract some outstanding candidates to UMass,” Bamford said. “Decisions like this are always difficult but after a thorough review of our men’s basketball program, I believe that a leadership change is needed to realize a higher level of competitive success expected at the University of Massachusetts.”

At the helm of the program for nine seasons, Kellogg compiled an overall record of 155-137, including 15-18 in 2016-17. Kellogg’s UMass teams were 67-83 in Atlantic 10 play during his tenure.

Kellogg’s contract stipulates a 50 percent buyout of the two years remaining, meaning UMass will give him about $1 million. Assistant coaches and other staff members who aren’t retained will also be due severance.

After Thursday’s game and before meeting with Bamford, Kellogg expressed a desire to keep coaching.

“We’ve showed some flashes. They still make some immature plays at times and we still have things to work on. But as a core group, we’re way further along with much more talent than other groups we’ve had,” he said. “I feel pretty confident about where this team can get to.”

Kellogg, a 43-year-old alum who played point guard for the Minutemen from 1991-95, was hired in 2008 to replace Travis Ford, after the former UMass coach was hired at Oklahoma State. Kellogg, a Springfield native, was a four-year letter winner (1991-1995) and three-year starter for UMass under John Calipari during the program’s glory years.

Kellogg won 12 games each of his first two seasons, but was 15-15 in 2010-11 and earned bids to the NIT in 2012 and 2013. The Minutemen reached the NIT’s final four in Madison Square Garden in 2012.

Kellogg brought UMass back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 18 years in 2014, a season that saw the Minutemen finish 24-9 and spend several weeks ranked in The Associated Press Top 25. He reportedly turned down an offer at Tulsa to stay at UMass where he signed an extension after that season.

The 2013-14 season raised expectations going forward. But the Minutemen finished 17-15 the following year and were below .500 each of the following seasons.

There was increased anticipation this season after Kellogg recruited a class that ESPN ranked among the nation’s top 25.

Entering the season, Kellogg tried to publicly dampen expectations for this season citing the challenges of integrating six new players, including five freshmen, into the lineup (the sixth freshman, Unique McLean, eventually redshirted). He liked his talent and said the group could eventually bring the Minutemen to another level, but he preached patience because of the group’s lack of experience and maturity.

Kellogg didn’t appear to be in danger for much of the season. But his team’s struggles during conference play seemed to increase speculation that the school might make a change. The Minutemen’s 96-66 loss to Duquesne drastically heightened that speculation.

Kellogg’s dismissal continues a trend that most of Calipari’s assistant coaches struggle to match even a small amount of his success as head coaches. Bill Bayno (UNLV), Bruiser Flint (UMass, Drexel), John Robic (Youngstown State), Ed Schilling (Wright State), Orlando Antigua (South Florida) and Scott Padgett (Samford) have all been fired after coaching under Calipari.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage


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