Welcome home, Kim: Mizzou hires Anderson to replace Haith
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — What’s old at Mizzou is suddenly new again.
After nearly two decades of drifting away from The Norm Stewart Era, the University of Missouri is returning to its roots. And turning to an alum, and a favorite native son, to try and make its stagnant men’s basketball program relevant on the national scene again.
Mizzou announced Monday afternoon that Kim Anderson, a former MU player and former Stewart assistant, will join his alma mater as the replacement for Frank Haith, who left Columbia to take the head coaching job at Tulsa 10 days ago.
The 58-year-old Anderson, who played for and later coached at Mizzou under Stewart, had served since 2002 as the head coach of the Central Missouri Mules, where he posted a 274-94 record (.743), including a 30-5 mark and a Division II national championship this past March.
While immediate reaction to the hire is less contentious than it was three years ago — when Haith was hired from Miami (Fla.) with NCAA investigators soon to be on his trail — news of Anderson’s hiring, while expected, has still fractured an already notoriously fractured fan base.
Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall was the preferred candidate of most Tigers fans, but there are no indications, on- or off-record, that such infatuation was even remotely mutual. Louisiana Tech’s Mike White and UTEP’s Tim Floyd were also mentioned as candidates over the past week, as was former UCLA and Pitt coach Ben Howland, who was believed to be a finalist for the job that ultimately went to Anderson.
This is the fourth men’s basketball coaching hire for Mizzou athletic director Mike Alden since 1999 and, unlike the one that saw Haith come to town after a very public flirtation with Purdue’s Matt Painter, this one was particularly notable for its lack of media leakage. Especially after the university’s board of curators scheduled a meeting on Friday for early Monday afternoon in which a high-profile contract was to be reviewed, in a closed-door session, for approval — the surest sign yet that Alden’s search was over.
The meeting began at 1 p.m. in Columbia and adjourned after roughly an hour and change, with no participant making comment to the cadre of media camped outside.
A short time later, Mizzou’s athletic department sent out a release to announce that Anderson had agreed to sign on.
"The fact that he’s a Missouri Tiger at heart is important," Alden said in the release. "He is committed to Mizzou and has a passion to build a program of which all Tiger fans will be proud."
A native of Sedalia, Mo., Anderson spent 17 seasons as a Big Eight/Big 12 or Southwest Conference assistant, 11 of them at Mizzou under Stewart (1982-85 and 1991-99). As a player, he helped lead Mizzou to its first Big Eight crown under Stewart in 1976 and was named the league’s Player of the Year in 1977 after averaging 18.3 points and 7.9 boards.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us and that work starts today," Anderson said, "but as a Missourian I embrace this challenge and look forward to bringing championship basketball back to Norm Stewart Court and Mizzou Arena."
Anderson also was, curiously enough, a candidate to replace Stewart in 1999 — but Alden, then early in his tenure, chose Duke assistant Quin Snyder instead.
Now both men are finally together, under one roof, their fates intertwined. For Stewart loyalists — and there are plenty in MU circles — Anderson’s ascent has been a long time coming. For Anderson, who’s finally getting his first shot at a Division I head coaching job, better late than never.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.