INDIANAPOLIS – LaVall Jordan is out as basketball coach at Butler.
The university made the announcement Friday amid speculation Jordan would be fired coming off a 14-19 season, the Bulldogs’ most losses in 32 years. It was his third losing season out of four, something that had not happened at Butler since the 1980s.
“After a thorough evaluation, I have come to the decision that a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program is needed,” athletic director Barry Collier said in a news release. “These decisions are never easy, but are incredibly more difficult when it impacts a high-character Bulldog who has represented our university so well for many years.
“I want to thank LaVall for his dedication to our program, and we wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”
A new coach will be Butler’s fifth since 2013.
Since Tony Hinkle arrived in 1926, Butler has hired one coach, Joe Sexson, who was not an alum or Butler assistant. Sexson was ousted in 1989 after 12 seasons. George Theofanis and Brandon Miller resigned in 1977 and 2014, respectively.
So until Friday, Butler had one firing in nearly a century.
A pivotal decision by athletic director Barry Collier is whether to stay within the Butler family for a new coach or to go outside. Collier recruited Jordan as a player, coached him, hired him as the Bulldogs’ first Black head basketball coach.
In an era of the transfer portal, the Bulldogs must also see if they retain a young core. Those players include sophomores Chuck Harris, Myles Tate and Myles Wilmoth, freshmen Jayden Taylor, Simas Lukosius, DJ Hughes and Pierce Thomas, and 6-10 recruit Connor Turnbull.
Before Jordan was fired, Harris, the Bulldogs’ top scorer with an 11.4 average, posted on his Twitter account he would be back.
Butler will be active in the transfer portal, especially in bringing in bigs. They lacked size even before 6-8 Bryce Golden announced he was entering the transfer portal to take his additional season elsewhere.
In Jordan’s first year, 2018, at age 38, he was the second-youngest coach out of 68 making the NCAA tournament. In 2020, Butler climbed to No. 5, its highest in-season ranking ever, but missed out on the canceled NCAA tournament.
The team has been burdened by injuries during two pandemic seasons. The Bulldogs improved significantly late this season but did not have the wins reflecting it. They were 1-6 in their final seven games, 3-9 in February/March.
In the Big East tournament, the Bulldogs beat Xavier 89-82 in overtime and lost to top-seeded Providence 65-61. Butler was 0-3 against Providence’s Sweet 16 team, losing by seven, one and four.
Butler, with the smallest basketball budget in the Big East, has struggled to find his footing in the realigned conference. During Jordan’s five seasons, Butler was 40-54 in Big East games to rank eighth out of 11 teams.
Jordan was 3-4 in the Big East tournament (the only Butler coach to win a game), 1-3 in the Crossroads Classic and 5-31 against the Top 25.
The Bulldogs were 4-6 at home this season in the Big East, the worst such record since 2-7 in their first year, 2014.
Jordan played at Butler from 1997-2001 and left with 91 victories, making him the winningest Bulldog ever at the time. He was MVP of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament in 2001 and was on the team that beat Wake Forest for the Bulldogs’ first NCAA tournament victory in 39 years.
He became an assistant coach at Butler, Iowa and Michigan. He was 11-24 in his only season at Milwaukee, taking the last-place Panthers to the 2017 Horizon League championship game.
Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.