It's Official: Amaker To Join Crimson

Former Michigan coach to be introduced at Friday press conference


Tommy Amaker has accepted Harvard's offer to become the next Crimson men's basketball coach.

Nichols Family Director of Athletics Bob Scalise officially announced Amaker, who was fired from his position as coach of the University of Michigan on March 17, in a press release on the Harvard Athletics website. Amaker told the Associated Press that he called today to accept the offer.

"It's a terrific opportunity for me," Amaker told the AP. "I've been fortunate to be associated with some of the finest academic institutions in the country, and none is greater than Harvard."

Harvard's new coach will be introduced in a press conference on Friday morning at the Murr Center.

Amaker will replace 16-year coach Frank Sullivan, who was let go March 5 after failing to lead Harvard to its first Ivy League title. 

"We're delighted Tommy Amaker is joining us at Harvard," Scalise said in the official release. "He has been a well-respected head coach at the highest level of college basketball, and his experience as a player and assistant at Duke, where athletic and academic success is paramount, makes him a terrific fit. We're looking forward to the support of the Harvard and local communities as we pursue our first Ivy League championship in men's basketball."

According to Director of Athletic Communications Charles V. Sullivan, Amaker was the top choice for the job and was offered the position by Scalise on Monday. 

Harvard's players, who met with Amaker last Friday, heard the news yesterday afternoon, and expressed excitement about the chance to play for a coach of Amaker's background and stature.

"He'll provide us with a new opportunity and a new perspective," captain-elect Brad Unger said. "He can offer things coming from big programs that are new to a place like Harvard.

"Coming out of the meeting [on Friday] could tell that he was very optimistic about the situation here at Harvard, and he was looking forward to the challenge that a place like Harvard presents." 

The players, who convened with Scalise several times throughout the process in addition to meeting with the top candidates, were appreciative of the efforts made by the administration to consider the team's opinion about the new coach.

"After meeting all the candidates, [Amaker] was our top choice, and they got him," said sophomore point guard Drew Housman.

"When [Scalise] went down and talked to Amaker, he made a big push from day one. When he came back and asked if we would want him as coach, everyone said, 'Yeah, that would be awesome,'" sophomore guard Andrew Pusar added.

The details of Amaker's contract were not released, although Sullivan stated it was a multi-year deal. Amaker made nearly one million dollars at Michigan last season, according to the Associated Press.

"You'd have 31 head coaches running in for raises if numbers were disclosed," Sullivan said of the value of Amaker's contract. [SEE CLARIFICATION BELOW]

The hiring makes Amaker the only African American among the 32 Harvard head coaches. Harvard's athletic administration had come under fire recently after an article in the Boston Globe revealed the racial imbalance in the Crimson's coaching ranks.

Amaker was an All-America point guard for Duke under coach Mike Krzyzewski, helping the Blue Devils reach the national title game in 1986 and winning the national defensive player of the year award as a senior the following year.

After graduating he spent nine years as an assistant coach for Krzyzewski before taking his first head-coaching position, at Seton Hall. Amaker led the Pirates to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 2000, and helped the team reach the National Invitational Tournament his three other years at the university.

Amaker moved to Michigan in 2001, where he coached for six seasons. He failed to take the Wolverines to the NCAAs, which led to his firing, although Michigan did win the NIT in 2004.

In his 10 seasons, Amaker holds a career coaching record of 177-138.

Harvard has never made the NIT, and its sole NCAA tournament appearance came in 1946.

"I'm incredibly proud of this opportunity to represent the school, and I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead and to creating some special moments for Harvard basketball," Amaker said in the release.

--Staff writer Walter E. Howell contributed to the reporting of this story.

--Staff writer Caleb W. Peiffer can be reached at

CLARIFICATIONThe online version of the April 11 sports article "It's Official: Amaker To Join Crimson" incorrectly contextualized remarks by Director of Athletic Communications Charles V. Sullivan. Sullivan was referring to the Athletic Department's policy of keeping contract figures confidential when he said "You'd have 31 head coaches running in for raises if numbers were disclosed." He was not referring to the value of Amaker's contract, as the story suggested.