Tommy Amaker’s Smart Decision to Stay at Harvard Sets Coach Up for Future Success


April 13, 2011

Tommy Amaker's Smart Decision to Stay at Harvard Sets Coach Up for Future Success Harvard men's head basketball coach Tommy Amaker may have been the right choice to fill the University of Miami's head coaching vacancy. But in true Harvard fashion, he made the intelligent decision by staying put in Cambridge.

On the surface, the decision seems questionable.

Amaker could have leapt from the obscurity of Ivy League play and into the limelight of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He immediately would have had the opportunity to test his luck against powerhouses such as Duke and North Carolina.

But the immediate potential for glory and the inevitable exposure that accompanies taking on a head coaching position within a power conference wasn't enough for the humble coach.

Consider it a case of wisely resisting temptation.

Harvard won its first Ivy League title this past season and enjoyed its winngest season in school history without a single senior on its roster — and only three juniors. The Crimson have enjoyed two postseason appearances under the tutelage of Amaker after making only one postseason appearance prior to his arrival in 2007.

In other words, Harvard's basketball program is on the rise and it is realistic to expect that success will continue throughout the next couple of years.

Miami, on the other hand, is only 43-69 in ACC play since joining the conference in 2004, and is poised to lose its most prolific rebounder, Reggie Johnson, to the NBA draft.

After three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament under former head coach Leonard Hamilton from 1997-2000, the Hurricanes have played on the big stage only twice since.

The school is also without an athletic director, creating an even greater sense of unpredictability across campus.

Miami may be the more attractive name to a casual NCAA fan, and the prospect of coaching in the ACC — a conference with 12 national championships to its credit — is awe-inspiring. But Miami has become a second-rate program within that conference, and there is no reason to expect success to be forthcoming — unlike at Harvard.

Amaker's creation of success at a school not traditionally known for basketball excellence, and the loyalty he is showing towards his current position and players by staying at Harvard, is a strong indication of his work ethic.

With another successful year at Harvard, Amaker will undoubtedly be approached by more schools about open coaching positions.

Just ask Butler head coach Brad Stevens, who has gone from a relative unknown to one of college basketball's most coveted coaches in a matter of two seasons.

Amaker is poised for a similar route. Next season, his name will likely be tossed around at schools with reputations that surpass Miami's.

Had Amaker jumped at his first opportunity to join an elite conference, though, he could have been on the coaching hot seat before long.

After all, patience is a virtue.

What do you think about Tommy Amaker's decision to stay at Harvard? Share your thoughts below.

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