According to reports Monday evening, Keith Dambrot, the winningest coach in University of Akron men’s basketball history, is leaving the program to be the new head coach at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
In a statement released late Monday night, UA Athletic Director Larry Williams said “We are very grateful for the enormous contributions that coach Keith Dambrot has made to our excellent men's basketball program. His hard work with our student-athletes, combined with their dedication to going the extra mile, have brought great success to The University of Akron – including the winningest season in UA history – and we value his role in making that happen. He and the Dambrot family will always be a part of The University of Akron family, and we wish him well as he moves along.”
Williams’ statement also said . . .
Dambrot, according to multiple sources signed a seven-year $7 million dollar deal to be the head man of the Dukes in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Duquesne, located in downtown Pittsburgh recenly let go head coach Jim Ferry after five seasons.
The Dukes have not had a winning record since 2009 and last participated in the post-season in 2016 reaching the second round of the College Basketball Invitational before falling to Morehead State.
An Akron native and graduate of UA, where is mother was a professor, Dambrot compiled a 305-139 record in 13 seasons after succeeding Dan Hipsher as the Zips coach after the 2003-04 season.
"This was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Dambrot told Cleveland.com. “I never could have made my comeback without Akron. Not many people get to coach for their alma mater. I will always be an Akron Zip."
This season, UA went 27-9, setting a school record for victories. It was the 12th consecutive season the Zips won 21 or more games in a season. Only four other schools, including 2017 Final Four participant Gonzaga, have accomplished that feat.
Akron fashioned a 12-game winning streak during the campaign, as well as a 30-game winning skein at Rhodes Arena dating back to last season. UA won its second straight MAC regular season and Eastern Division titles. The Zips then defeated Eastern Michigan and Ball State in MAC tournament play before losing in the championship game to Kent State.
UA went to seven post-season tournaments under Dambrot, including the second round of this year’s NIT, where they lost to Texas-Arlington. He also guided the Zips to the NCAA Tournament three times.
Dambrot was named MAC Coach of the Year three times, including this season, and had 12 players score 1000 or more points in their careers. The most recent was 2017 MAC Player of the Year Isaiah Johnson.
After head coaching stints at Tiffin and Central Michigan, Dambrot returned home and was a stock broker before returning to the hardwood as head coach of his high school alma mater, Saint Vincent-Saint Mary’s in Akron. Dambrot found quick success, leading the Fighting Irish to the state championships. One member of those teams was LeBron James, who went on to become a professional superstar.
Dambrot first joined UA in 1984 as a graduate assistant under Bob Rupert and later returned to be a part of Hipsher’s staff for two seasons.
Three of Dambrot’s assistants have moved to bigger programs including Shaka Smart who coached VCU to the Final Four and is now head man at Texas. Two other assistants, Lamont Paris and Jeff Boals, are assistants at Wisconsin and Ohio State, respectively.
Dambrot’s father, Sid, played at DU in the mid 1950’s and was a teammate of their legendary player Shiugo Green. In addition, his son Robby transferred from the nationally ranked UA soccer team to play at the University of Pittsburgh.
Five years ago, Dambrot was courted heavily by the school but remained at UA and signed a contract extension. Earlier this month, he was reportedly linked to a position at South Florida.