The men’s basketball team began a new era Monday as it introduced Frank Haith as the new head coach at the Hurricane 100 Room inside the Convocation Center. The 38-year-old joins the Miami family after spending the last three seasons at the University of Texas as the associate head coach to Rick Barnes.
A graduate of Elon College, Haith grew up right in the heart of ACC territory and knows all about the basketball rivalries of the conference where he said he was an “ABC” fan – Anyone But Carolina.
“Going into the league that we are going into is very exciting,” Haith said. “There is no question that attracted me to the job.”
Athletic Director Paul Dee stated earlier in the week that he would prefer someone with head coaching experience, but he hired Haith because of his experience and knowledge of the ACC, the conference Miami will be joining next season.
“His experience in the ACC meant a great deal to me,” Dee said. “I think the players he has coached, the people he has recruited, and the type of people he has recruited speak well of him.”
Before joining the University of Texas in 2001, Haith worked as an assistant at Wake Forest University from 1989-1990 and again from 1997-2001. Other stops Haith has made in his coaching career include UNC-Wilmington, Texas A&M, and Penn State.
Haith signed a five-year contract that is worth around $350,000 a season. Dee had to find a candidate that would be willing to work for less money since the university will be paying former Head Coach Perry Clark for the next three seasons.
Haith said that he is ready for the challenge of turning around a program that has had back-to-back losing seasons and missed the Big East Tournament last season.
He already has a long list of things to accomplish in his first couple of weeks. His hiring comes right in the middle of the time period when schools are doing their heaviest recruiting work. One of Clark’s recruits who signed with Miami, C.J. Giles from Seattle, asked the university to be released after Clark was fired. Haith will be flying to Seattle on Monday to visit the 6’11” Giles.
Haith also has to put together a staff, which he hopes will be in place in a few weeks. He will be meeting with members that were part of Clark’s staff as well as those he knows from elsewhere. He made it a point to say that he will only hire those who he knows.
Haith said he wants to get the students and the community more involved with the basketball program, something that Clark never was able to do in his tenure. As for how he plans on getting fans in the seats at the Convocation Center, Haith said that he would even go out to the dorms and get students to come to games.
“[The fans] have to see my passion and enthusiasm and see our players’ enthusiasm,” Haith said. “I want our players to be a part of the community and student body. Once people get to know them, I think we can generate interest and enthusiasm for our program.”
Many say that Haith’s greatest strength is recruiting. He was able to bring in the top recruiting class in the country last season at Texas and has brought in a total of six McDonald’s All-Americans in his career, including current NBA player Rodney Rogers.
It will be an uphill battle for the new head coach, as he doesn’t enter the prettiest of situations. The team’s leading scorer, Darius Rice, will be gone; they will be entering the strongest basketball conference in America, and they are coming off of two consecutive losing seasons.
Haith said he has always dreamed about taking over a situation like this.
“I wasn’t going to move unless it was the right job,” Haith said. “Once this job opened up, I knew this was the job I wanted. This is a family. They are my extended family.”
Douglas Kroll can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org