RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University has chosen Dan McHale, a former University of Louisville assistant, to be its men’s basketball head coach.
McHale will be introduced at a press conference at 10 a.m. on Thursday on the court inside McBrayer Arena. All media and fans are invited to attend.
“We are ecstatic to welcome Coach Dan McHale and his family to the Colonel Family,” Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson said. “Dan brings years of experience at some top-flight programs to EKU, along with ties to Kentucky and this region. He came to us with the highest recommendations from some of America’s best coaches and we have every confidence he will take our basketball program to the next level.”
Before being chosen as Eastern Kentucky’s 20th head men’s basketball coach, McHale completed his second season as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota where he worked under head coach Richard Pitino. McHale got his coaching start under Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino as a staff assistant at Louisville from 2001 to 2003.
“I’m extremely excited to be working at Eastern Kentucky University,” McHale said. “I want to thank President Benson and Steve Lochmueller for this opportunity. With the leadership of these two, it’s an honor to be a part of these exciting times at EKU. We are going to bring excitement to McBrayer Arena with a fast paced style of play. It’s going to be fun for our players and our fans.”
In his first season at Minnesota, McHale helped the Gophers to a NIT Championship and a 25-13 record that included wins over No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 11 Ohio State. The 25 victories are the second-most in program history. The 2014-15 squad won 18 games, including a victory at Michigan State, a team that would reach the Final Four.
“I am extremely excited and proud of Dan McHale,” Richard Pitino said. “Eastern Kentucky is getting a tremendous coach and recruiter, but more importantly a great person. He will represent the Eastern Kentucky program in a first-class manner. There is no doubt in my mind that he will do great things there.”
McHale served as a student manager for four seasons (1997-01) at Kentucky. He was part of one national championship team, four NCAA Tournament teams and three Southeastern Conference championships while working with Tubby Smith’s Wildcats.
The Cardinals went 25-7, won the 2003 Conference USA Tournament title and reached the NCAA Tournament in McHale’s second season as a staff assistant at Louisville. During his first stint he assisted with opponent scouting, game preparation and on-campus recruiting. After one year as the director of operations at Manhattan College, McHale returned to UofL for two seasons as the director of video operations, overseeing advance scouting video and evaluation video of Cardinal players. In his second two-year stint at Louisville, the Cardinals won 45 games and played in two NCAA Tournaments.
“Dan is one of the hardest working coaches in our profession,” Rick Pitino said. “I have great admiration for his dedication to our game. He is a great addition to our state.”
In 2007, McHale joined Kevin Willard’s first staff at Iona College. As an assistant, McHale helped lead the Gaels from two wins the season before the duo arrived to 12 wins their first season and 21 wins in year three at Iona. He recruited NBA draft pick and 2012 MAAC Player of the Year Scott Machado to Iona.
McHale followed Willard to Seton Hall when he was named head coach in 2010. In their second season, the Pirates won 20 games. While at Seton Hall, McHale was responsible for the Pirates’ defensive game planning and spearheaded opponent scouting and game preparation.
“Eastern Kentucky has hit a home run with the hiring of Dan McHale, who is a rising star within the coaching ranks,” Willard said. “He is not only a terrific recruiter and mentor of student-athletes, but he also has a great mind for the game of basketball. Dan has earned the opportunity to lead a basketball program, and with his outstanding knowledge, personality and work ethic, he will make a positive impact at Eastern Kentucky.”
McHale will look to add to the success of the Rick Pitino coaching tree that includes Billy Donovan (Florida), Tubby Smith (Texas Tech), Mick Cronin (Cincinnati), Richard Pitino (Minnesota) and former EKU head coach Travis Ford (Oklahoma State).
McHale has caught the eye of one of America’s top young college basketball coaches – Memphis head coach Josh Pastner.
“Dan is going to do an outstanding job at Eastern Kentucky University,” said Pastner. “He is a tireless worker and will do the job with great principle and great work ethic. Eastern Kentucky got a winner in Dan McHale.”
The Chatham, New Jersey native earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and graduated with honors from UK in 2001. McHale and his wife Jackie have a daughter, Lilly, a son, Daniel, and are expecting their third child.
“Kentucky is home to me and my family,” McHale said. “We are excited to be back and to coach basketball in this state.”
Eastern Kentucky went 21-12 this past season and made its third straight appearance in a national postseason tournament. Eastern finished first in the OVC East Division with an 11-5 mark. The Colonels have finished in the top-three in the conference each of the last three seasons.