— By Bill Cornwell
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Many 75-year-olds are in the midst of retirement, but that’s not the case for veteran Marshall men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni.
During an emergency session Tuesday, Marshall University’s Board of Governors met and approved a three-year contract extension for D’Antoni.
The Marshall alumnus and Mullens native says he’s far from finished in his job of leading the Thundering Herd program for which he played for in the late 1960s.
“I love coaching and I love our team,” D’Antoni said. “My first year here was a dream-come-true and it’s the same as I go into my 10th. I’ve got a great fan base and I enjoy living here. We’ve got a great team coming back. We look forward to adding a bit to what we’ve got and seeing if we can’t make another run and finish up a little stronger in these next three years.”
Marshall recently completed a 24-8 season and finished third in the Sun Belt Conference regular season race. Marshall lost in the Sun Belt Tournament quarterfinals to Texas State, 71-68, in what marked a disappointing ending to a strong season.
The 2022-23 MU squad featured standout efforts from Sun Belt first-team all-conference guards Taevion Kinsey and Andrew Taylor. Center Micah Handlogten won Sun Belt Freshman of the Year honors.
Marshall Director of Athletics Christian Spears says D’Antoni staying in his position brings stability to a MU basketball program riding a wave of momentum.
“I am convinced that if we all stay together, we can do something spectacular,” Spears said. “We have a team that cares about each other, a coach that is committed to our program and our community and a community that rallies behind us all. Combine that with aligned leadership, and we know that great things are in store for our basketball program. Believe it!”
Marshall President Brad Smith is also excited to have D’Antoni return.
“We are so excited to extend excellence by showing our continued commitment and confidence in Coach D’Antoni,” Smith said. “In his nine years, he has done incredible work restoring us to a position of greatness within this athletics program. To win more regular season games this year than we’ve won in 76 years is an outstanding achievement, and we want to continue that excellence for years to come. I am excited and I congratulate Coach D’Antoni and all of Herd Nation.”
D’Antoni says new leadership at Marshall has energized both he and the entire MU Athletic Department.
There were also program improvements, including a new floor and other facility upgrades in the Cam Henderson Center and renovating the Scaggs Family Practice Facility and the Pathway Project.
“You always give credit to the young men who put the time in and got you there. They are the biggest credit, but the second one goes to the support we got,” D’Antoni said. “Giving the look of championship quality — the new practice facility that is going in to recruiting, the Cam being cleaned up and feeling like people are excited about what we’re doing and the recruiting walkways they added to depict our players — you have to have all that.
“President Brad Smith and Christian Spears and our administrative team have provided that, along with alumni such as Wyatt Scaggs, who were big on getting the necessary resources together,” D’Antoni said. “It’s been long overdue for this program going way back. We’re catching up and I think the attitude of winning rolled right with all of that. I’m looking forward to extending that.”
D’Antoni is the second-longest tenured coach in Marshall men’s basketball history behind Cam Henderson. D’Antoni is 164-128 in nine seasons, with seven winning seasons, including four in which the Herd has reached the 20-win plateau.