AMES, Iowa -- The job of turning around Iowa State's basketball program was given to a self-described Iowa farm boy Tuesday, who promised that the return of "Hilton Magic" was just around the corner.
Four days after firing coach Wayne Morgan, Iowa State announced
Tuesday the hiring of Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott.
McDermott, a 41-year-old Cascade native, led the Panthers to three straight NCAA Tournaments in his five seasons and 20-plus wins in each of the past three seasons.
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said that McDermott has agreed to a six-year deal at $650,000 per year, plus
"This place was special enough to leave home to come here,"
said McDermott, a former Northern Iowa player. "I'm one of you.
I'm a farm boy from Cascade, Iowa."
McDermott's hiring comes at the end of a search that Pollard had
whittled down to two candidates: Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Rob Jeter
Pollard met with McDermott on Sunday, decided on him over Jeter
and offered McDermott the job late Monday night. Pollard called
Jeter at 7 a.m. Tuesday to break the news, and said the
UW-Milwaukee coach was very disappointed he wasn't offered the job.
"It was hard. He's an outstanding coach, and he's going to have
many outstanding opportunities ahead of him," Pollard said. "I
just feel coach McDermott was a better fit for Iowa State."
McDermott also interviewed with Kansas State on Monday in Chicago. A source told ESPN.com that McDermott was offered both jobs.
McDermott spent seven seasons as a Division II head coach, six
at Wayne State College and one at North Dakota State, before
joining Northern Iowa.
The Panthers went 90-63 under McDermott and finished 23-10 this
season, losing to Georgetown on Friday in the first round of the
Last season Iowa State began the season ranked No. 25, but
finished 16-14 and missed out on postseason play.
"Next year's Cyclones team is going to defend. We're going to
value the basketball and we're going to play unselfish
basketball," McDermott said.
McDermott replaces Morgan, who was fired on Friday, two days
after a report surfaced that Iowa State and a number of other
programs may have steered more than $100,000 to a California
business run by a junior college coach.
A CBS Sportsline.com story last week alleged that D1 Scheduling,
a company founded by Los Angeles Community College coach Mike
Miller, might have been delivering LACC players to Division I
schools, including Iowa State, that paid the company to arrange
Iowa State officials said said they do not believe Morgan was involved in any wrongdoing.
Morgan's predecessor was Larry Eustachy, who resigned in 2003
after newspaper photographs showed him drinking with college
students on Big 12 road trips.
Pollard said he wanted the next coach to have Midwestern roots
be able to turn the program around.
"It came down to giving a guy from Iowa a chance to prove that
his formula works at the big-time level," Pollard said. "What's
important to me is that we build this overall athletic program the
But the school pulled out all the stops to welcome McDermott to
Ames, holding a press conference in Hilton Coliseum featuring the
student band, cheerleaders, the school mascot and thousands of
The team, including Blalock, was also in attendance. Blalock
said he will not hire an agent and pay his own way to NBA workouts
so he can retain his eligibility if he doesn't get picked.
"I realize they just hired a really great coach, and as far as
I'm concerned if things don't work out I'll have no doubt in my
mind I'll come back."
McDermott said the decision to leave Cedar Falls was a heart-wrenching one, but the chance to coach in a prestigious
conference and remain in his home state was too good to pass up.
"Part of me could have stayed at Northern Iowa forever and
sailed off into the sunset," McDermott said. "But the competitive
side of me wanted to coach in the Big 12 conference and wanted to
attempt to win a championship in the Big 12 conference."
Meanwhile, a source said Northern Iowa is expected to promote assistant Ben Jacobson to replace McDermott. That announcement could come as early as Wednesday morning.
ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.