After eight middling years, Mike Anderson has been fired as Razorback basketball coach. He met with the team before the news was announced. Here’s the official news release.
It’s about winning. Period. The UA news release said:
Arkansas has made a change in leadership in its men’s basketball program. Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek announced today that Mike Anderson has been dismissed as the head men’s basketball coach.
Anderson recently completed his eighth season as the head coach of the Razorback men’s basketball team and his 25th season overall as a member of the Razorback men’s basketball program.
“After a review of the program, including an analysis of the past eight years and a look forward, I have made a decision that a change in leadership will best position our men’s basketball program for future success,” Yurachek said. “In the past eight seasons, we have won a number of games and have made appearances in both the NIT and the NCAA Tournaments. However, in my evaluation, we have not sustained a consistent level of success against the most competitive teams in the nation to enable us to compete for SEC and NCAA Championships on an annual basis. That will continue to be the benchmark for our success throughout our athletic program.
“During his tenure with our program, Mike Anderson has represented the University of Arkansas in a first-class manner and with the highest level of integrity on and off the floor. We are grateful for Coach Anderson’s many contributions to our program and most of all for his investment in the lives of the many student-athletes he has coached. He has been a positive influence on their lives, encouraged them and supported them on, both their individual and collective, academic and athletic journeys. We wish Mike, his wife Marcheita and the entire Anderson family the very best.”
Anderson became Arkansas’ 12th head men’s basketball coach in March 2011 and was 169-102 in his eight seasons with the Razorbacks. He has posted a 17-year head coaching record of 369-200 with stops at UAB (2002-06) and Missouri (2006-11) before returning to Arkansas in 2011. Anderson was on staff with the Razorbacks for 17 seasons (1985-2002), helping Arkansas win the 1994 NCAA Championship.
The Razorbacks made five postseason tournament berths in Anderson’s eight years, including three in the NCAA (2015, 2017 and 2018) and two in the NIT (2014 and 2019).
Arkansas was 18-16 this past season, finished ninth in the SEC (8-10) and reached the second round of the NIT.
Yurachek announced that a national search for the next head men’s basketball coach will begin immediately. Associate head coach Melvin Watkins will serve as a lead on men’s basketball team related matters until a head coach is named.
“With our great history and tradition, a loyal fan base and a fully supported program within the SEC, I am confident that we will identify a leader that will elevate our men’s basketball program to a nationally competitive level on an annual basis,” Yurachek said. “In an effort to most effectively identify and secure our next head coach, I do not plan on providing further comment related to our search until its completion. I appreciate the understanding and support of all Razorback fans as we move forward in this process.”
Anderson signed an extension in 2018 and got a pay raise to $2.55 million a year ($200,000 through a personal services contract with the Razorback Foundation) that gave him a contract through the 2021-22 season, which means three years were remaining. That extension, by then-new Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, drew some criticism at the time given a lacklustre record. The contract provides $1 million per year in severance for each of the three years remaining on the contract.