Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Gregory takes Dayton head-coaching job

April 10, 2003
Associate head coach Brian Gregory directs the Spartans from the sidelines of an NCAA Tournament game last year. He was introduced as the new head coach of the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday —

After much speculation, MSU basketball associate head coach Brian Gregory accepted the head-coaching position at Dayton on Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm honored and excited to be named the head basketball coach at the University of Dayton," Gregory said at a press conference. "It's a program rich in tradition with tremendous community and fan support and a great foundation has been laid for this program.

"I've been well prepared by my mentors - Jud Heathcote, Kevin O'Neill and Tom Izzo -and look forward to building a championship program at UD."

Gregory inherits a Dayton team that is returning four starters from last year's team, which finished 24-6 and received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Dayton also finished the season ranked No. 16 in the final Associated Press Poll.

He succeeds Oliver Purnell, who left for the head-coaching position at Clemson earlier in the week.

"It's definitely the right job for him," Izzo said. "He called me today at 12 o'clock and said, 'You're not going to believe this, but it really happened.' It's one of those jobs that's the perfect fit.

"We produced a list where we thought a lot of the top jobs would open up and to be honest with you, Dayton was at the top of that list."

Gregory had interviewed for a job with Illinois State last week, but declined accepting the position when it was offered. He leaves MSU after two stints totaling 10 seasons.

He was an assistant coach to both Heathcote and Izzo from 1990-1996 before following fellow assistant coach Stan Joplin to Toledo after the 1996 season.

After serving as Joplin's assistant, he returned to the Big Ten a year later, serving as Northwestern's top recruiter for two seasons under O'Neill.

Gregory returned to MSU to be Izzo's associate head coach in 2000, just in time to be a part of the Spartans' national championship.

"Dayton got a great hire," said Jay Bilas, a college basketball analyst for ESPN. "He's a great coach, an excellent floor coach, and he has an unbelievable work ethic. He has a lot of experience and a great way of thinking."

Three other Izzo assistants also have become Division I head coaches in the past seven seasons. Marquette head coach Tom Crean left MSU in 1999, Arkansas head coach Stan Heath left MSU for Kent State in 2001 and Joplin took the head-coaching position at Toledo in 1996.

"He knows what it takes to create a championship program," Dayton Athletics Director Ted Kissell said. "Brian Gregory is a winner."

Izzo said Kissell had an intense interest in Gregory.

"(Kissell) said he was looking to take that program to a championship level," Izzo said. "Maybe he looked at what we did here, taking MSU to an elite level, and he thinks Brian will do the same there."

Gregory might not be the only coaching loss this postseason.

Spartan assistant coach Mike Garland is also a finalist for a head-coaching position. Garland interviewed at Cleveland State on Wednesday evening. If he is offered the job and accepts, he would be the fifth Izzo assistant to leave in the last seven years.

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