Northern Iowa mens’ basketball coach Greg McDermott hung up his purple and gold colors Tuesday in exchange for the cardinal and gold of Iowa State University.
I-S-U Athletic Director Jamie Pollard introduced McDermott on a stage set up on the basketball floor at Hilton Coliseum in Ames amidst fans, cheerleaders and the pep band. Pollard said in introducing McDermott, “He’s a native Iowan, he’s one of us. He wants to make Cyclone basketball the center of this state, of the midwest and of the NCAA.”
McDermott walk the steps from the upper level down to the floor, shaking hands of the students before taking the microphone. McDermott says it’s been an interesting couple of days and said he appreciates the confidence placed in him to do the job that needs to get done. McDermott who played at U-N-I thanked the president and athletic director at the school for all they’d done for him as a coach. McDermott said it was a “heartwrenching” decision to take the I-S-U job.
McDermott says, “And that has nothing to do with Iowa State, because I have great admiration for Iowa State and this athletic department. But, I left a special place to come here, the University of Northern Iowa is a big part of who I am.” He says, “This place was special enough to me that I could leave home to come here. I’m one of you. A farm boy from Cascade, Iowa.”
McDermott says he wants to get Iowa State back into postseason play as soon as he can. He says he doesn’t think getting back is that far away. “Part of me could have stayed at U-N-I forever and sailed of into the sunset. But the competitive side of me wanted to coach in the Big 12 conference and wanted to win a championship in the Big 12 Conference.”
McDermott says he also wanted to go to a place where he could remain in his home state and not have to leave family and friends. McDermott says,”That only leaves two places…and beating the Hawkeyes is way too much fun.” McDermott also addressed the students who sit in a section during games that’s know as the Cyclone Alley. He says, “They’re going to have to come with some new names for me. Because what I’ve been referred to before when I walked through that tunnel before(as the U-N-I coach), I don’t think that cuts it any more.” McDermott says he talked with the current I-S-U players and told them that they will start over and whatever happened in the past won’t matter.
McDermott says his team at I-S-U will play defense. He says, “We’re going to value the basketball, and were going to play unselfish basketball, and it’s going to be about the team.” McDermott says the players seemed excited about that. McDermott comes to I-S-U after five seasons at U-N-I where he led the Panthers to their first ever national ranking and the N-C-A-A Tournament each of the last three years. He had a 90-63 record at U-N-I, including a 1-4 record against his new team.
McDermott replaces Wayne Morgan who was fired last Thursday after the team failed to make it to postseason play after a late-season slide. Athletic Director Jamie Pollard says McDermott fit the bill for what he was looking for. Pollard says he wanted to find a proven winner, both athletically and academically. Pollard says he wanted and individual that had a clear passion to be the coach of Iowa State, and he says McDermott emerged as the clear cut favorite.
Pollard says he wanted to act quickly to hire McDermott. He says they weren’t going to mess around as there are 30 coaching openings and they didn’t want someone else to hire the coach they wanted. Pollard says mcDermott has signed a six-year contract with a base salary of 650-thousand, plus various incentives.