Wake Forest Names Jeff Bzdelik New Basketball Coach

By JOEDY McCREARY
AP Sports Writer

April 14, 2010

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Jeff Bzdelik was introduced as the new basketball coach at Wake Forest on Wednesday, ending a weeklong search for a replacement for Dino Gaudio.

Athletic director Ron Wellman said Bzdelik “first and foremost … understands Wake Forest.”

The former coach at Air Force and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets left Colorado after three seasons, where he was 36-58. He has a career coaching record of 111-105.

Gaudio was fired because of what Wellman described as a pattern of late-season fades, but Bzdelik said current assistants Jeff Battle and Rusty LaRue will remain on his staff.

The school did not immediately disclose Bzdelik’s salary, the length of his contract or how the $500,000 buyout clause in his contract with Colorado would be handled.

Bzdelik was the only known candidate for the job, arriving in Winston-Salem on Monday and spending two days on campus interviewing and touring. He called Wake Forest “my dream job.”

The 57-year-old Bzdelik is no stranger to his new boss or his new employer — his daughter is already enrolled at Wake Forest. Bzdelik and Wellman have known each other for roughly three decades, since they were at Northwestern in the early 1980s — Wellman as the baseball coach and Bzdelik as a men’s basketball assistant.

Bzdelik started his coaching career in the late 1970s at Davidson, an hour’s drive south of the Wake Forest campus.

Before taking over at Colorado, he found plenty of success during a two-year stint at Air Force, where he was 50-16. He led the Falcons to the NCAA tournament in 2006 and to the Final Four of the NIT the following season. Those Falcons gave Wake Forest its most lopsided non-conference loss of the modern era when it routed Skip Prosser’s Demon Deacons 94-58.

Bzdelik hasn’t been to the postseason since that season. He remains 0-1 as a head coach in the NCAA tournament, with his Air Force team losing to Illinois in the first round in 2006.

He was 73-119 with the Nuggets from 2002-04.

Gaudio had a three-year record of 61-31 but a combined mark of 1-5 in the ACC and NCAA tournaments. His dismissal came 15 months after he guided the Demon Deacons to their second No. 1 national ranking in school history, and 2 weeks after a 30-point loss to Kentucky in the second round of the East Regional.