Archie Miller’s time as IU men’s basketball’s head coach came to a close Monday after Athletics Director Scott Dolson fired him.
During his four seasons as head coach, his team never had an NCAA Tournament berth. So IU decided it was time to pay his $10.35 million buyout — sponsored by “private philanthropic funding” — and start new.
Miller’s departure marks the start of the program’s future, which Dolson said in a press conference Monday he wants to be consistent and defined by an identity.
Archie Miller’s firing
Dolson said he was confident in his decision to fire Miller, but that didn’t make it any easier. He met with Miller on Monday morning to give him his final decision.
Ultimately, Dolson decided the program hadn’t made enough progress under Miller to continue with his leadership. He said it was time for a new voice and direction.
Following his meeting with Miller, Dolson spoke to the players over Zoom. He also met with incoming IU basketball recruit and four-star center Logan Duncomb and his father after that.
“Change is hard. Uncertainty is hard,” Dolson said. “I want to assure them. I want them to hear directly from me our commitment, my commitment to maximizing their opportunity here within IU athletics and IU basketball.”
Dolson said the transition started today with his meeting with the players. He has also started a transition team led by Lorian Price, senior associate athletic director for academic services.
He said four members of the staff will be staying on at least the interim to help Price with the transition: assistant coaches Mike Roberts and Kenya Hunter, administrator Ben Sander and strength coach Clif Marshall.
Through the transition, Dolson said he wants players to feel completely supported to make all of the right decisions going forward.
“I'm confident with the transition plan we have in place, that they understand that that's such a priority for us,” Dolson said.
IU is in a great position with the investments it's made to have someone new come in and have the right kind of support, Dolson said.
“We've got elite facilities. We have elite level fan support. We've got elite tradition,” Dolson said. “I think it's really just a tremendous opportunity to really take this program to the level that we all want to.”
Search for a new head coach
Dolson said he doesn’t have any one person in mind, but he has a vision of the type of person he is looking for.
“It’s really a combination of someone who understands and embraces our tradition and our history, but more importantly, has a vision for the future and believes in all the things that we believe in and embraces those,” Dolson said.
In terms of finding that person, at the moment, IU is not looking to establish a formal search committee. Instead, Dolson will consult within the university and trusted experts.
He said he doesn’t want to exclude anyone from being a candidate and wants the search to be an open process. Dolson will evaluate all of the potential candidates that could be a fit.
Dolson said it’s important to build on the incredible foundation IU basketball has built, and that’s something he’s always been slightly paranoid about. He wants to work with the new coach to make sure they have a new vision for the future — to not live in the past, but build on it.
Establishing an identity is very important to him in that vision, Dolson said. He wants players around the country to look at IU basketball, understand that identity and want to be a part of it.
Recruiting is a big focus, so Dolson said he wants to create a vision for recruiting philosophies, player development and winning strategies to make the program attractive for future generations of basketball players.
“All of those areas have to be attractive to give us an identity,” Dolson said. “And that's really, really important to me. And I think if we have that and we really hone in on that vision for the future, I think then the success of the program, the consistency that we all want will follow. But the process is what gets you there.”
Building back up a tradition of winning
Winning is a key part of the student-athlete experience, Dolson said. IU men’s basketball players didn’t get much of that experience under Miller, but Dolson wants to get back to that, he said.
His plan is to develop leaders that can guide to consistent success down the road and build back up that tradition of winning.
He said Miller had a plan, but the results weren’t at the level where Dolson felt as if it was in IU’s best interest to move forward with him as head coach.
Dolson said he wants to get back to having an attractive style of play that not only players can see themselves in, but gets them back to winning consistently.
“As you can see with the great league we've had this year, you kind of want it all,” Dolson said. “You want to blend the ability to succeed in our conference, the ability to have a style of play the players want to play and recruits want to play in and ultimately prepares them for the next level as well.”