Maryland hires former Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard as men’s basketball coach

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Maryland has hired Seton Hall‘s Kevin Willard as its next head coach, the school announced Monday morning.

Willard arrives in College Park after 12 seasons at Seton Hall.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kevin to the Terrapin family,” athletic director Damon Evans said in a statement. “We are excited about the future of Maryland basketball with Kevin leading the way. Known for his gritty, hard-working teams, Kevin has had tremendous success, winning conference championships and leading his teams to NCAA Tournaments. He has made a habit of scheduling challenging opponents and winning in those games as evidenced by his record against Big Ten teams in recent years. He has familiarity with the region, being a native New Yorker and having spent much of his life in the Northeast corridor. We welcome Kevin, his wife Julie, and their sons Colin and Chase to the Maryland family and we look forward to the next great chapter in Terrapin basketball history.”

Willard had been considered a favorite in the Maryland search since the job opened in early December following Mark Turgeon’s resignation.

“Growing up and coaching in the region, I have always admired Maryland basketball. Being named head coach of one of the nation’s premier basketball programs is a tremendous honor,” Willard said in a statement. “Thank you to President Pines and Damon Evans for trusting me to energize this proud program as we look to galvanize our passionate fanbase with a gritty, hard-working style of basketball. Having coached against Maryland several times and at Xfinity Center, I know how Terp fans feel about this team. I embrace the high expectations. Skill development and a dedication to academic success will be cornerstones of our program and I can promise Terp Nation we will work to make them proud of this basketball team as we build winners on the court and in the classroom. Julie and our boys are excited to join the Terrapin family.”

A Long Island native, Willard, 46, played his college ball at Western Kentucky and Pittsburgh before beginning his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics under Rick Pitino. He followed Pitino to Louisville, where he spent six seasons as an assistant coach before taking the head-coaching job at Iona. In 15 seasons as a head coach, Willard has been to five NCAA tournaments and won a share of the Big East regular-season title in 2020.

Seton Hall has missed the NCAA tournament just once since 2015, stumbling down the stretch last season to play itself out of the mix. The Pirates bounced back this season by starting 9-1 with wins over Michigan and Texas and then closed out with wins in eight of their final 10 regular-season games. Their season ended in a 69-42 blowout loss to TCU in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Seton Hall has finished in the top half of the Big East in each of the past seven seasons. In 12 seasons with the Pirates, Willard had an overall record of 225-161.

His father is Ralph Willard, who spent nearly 40 years in coaching — including stints as the head coach at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross.

Willard replaces Turgeon, who guided Maryland to five NCAA tournaments in 10 seasons before suddenly stepping down in early December. The Terrapins advanced past the first weekend of the tournament just once under Turgeon, but they won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title in 2020.

Following Turgeon’s resignation, Danny Manning was named interim head coach. After a preseason top 25 ranking, Maryland finished just 15-17 overall and 7-13 in the Big Ten.

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