Davis retires after 4 seasons at Drake; son takes over

Updated: March 21, 2007, 6:54 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Dr. Tom Davis is retiring from the Division I coaching ranks after 32 seasons, the last four spent at Drake.

Closer Look: Tom Davis' Record
Tom Davis

Tom Davis made over programs at Lafayette, BC and Stanford and transformed them into winners all. He then touched down in Iowa City, where he coached the Hawkeyes to 270 victories before leaving after the 1998-99 season. His career at a glance:

School Years Overall NCAAs
Lafayette 1971-77 116-44 N/A
Boston College 1977-82 100-47 5-2
Stanford 1982-86 58-59 N/A
Iowa 1986-99 270-139 13-9
Drake 2003-07 54-66 N/A
Total 32 598-355 18-11

Davis will be succeeded by his 35-year-old son, Keno, who has been on Tom's staff all four seasons at Drake and was earmarked in April 2006 to be his father's eventual replacement. Tom Davis will remain at Drake as a special assistant to the athletic director.

"I'll miss it, there's no question," the 68-year-old Davis told the Des Moines Register. "I miss it already. I'll miss the preparation and the practices. I won't miss some of it, in terms of the pressure building heading into a game."

The Register first reported Wednesday that Keno Davis, 35, takes the post under a five-year contract with a rollover clause.

"Today begins a new era for men's basketball at Drake University," said Drake athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb. "I am thrilled to announce that Keno Davis will succeed his father as our head coach. He has been mentored by three of the best coaches in college basketball, in not only developing his ability with the X's and O's of the game, but also in making a commitment to the holistic development of the student-athlete.

Keno Davis
Keno Davis

"Tom Davis has laid the foundation for a winning legacy at Drake and we are eternally grateful for his belief in and vision for Drake men's basketball. Keno is the perfect successor to take us to a new level of success at Drake University."

The elder Davis skipped Wednesday's press conference in an attempt to keep attention focused on his son.

"I can't imagine spending four more enjoyable years than the last four at Drake," Tom Davis said in a statement released through the school. "I'll miss everything about day-to-day coaching, but will do all I can to help Drake, the players and coaches moving forward."

Keno Davis had been Drake's top assistant, and current players and incoming recruits were made aware that he would take the reins once his father decided to step aside.

"I feel like I've been ready to be a head coach for a while now," he said. "A lot of things I've been able to bounce off my father, as far as different thoughts, of things that I might do down the road that he's been able to guide me toward. It's been invaluable the last four years."

Tom Davis -- known as "Dr. Tom" after earning a doctorate from Maryland -- began his head coaching career at Lafayette in 1971, compiling a 116-44 record in six seasons. He also gave current Maryland coach Gary Williams his first break, hiring Williams as an assistant at Lafayette.

"I would not have been a college coach if it wasn't for Tom," Williams told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "Basketball-wise, I saw how important it was to be able to teach. He was a great teacher. It was like a classroom at his practices."

Davis moved on to Boston College, guiding the Eagles to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and an NIT berth in five seasons. He then spent four years at Stanford before taking over at Iowa, where he experienced his greatest success.

In 13 season in Iowa City, Davis racked up a school-record 270 wins and led the Hawkeyes to nine NCAA Tournament appearances, including two trips to the round of 16 and one to the final eight.

He was the Associated Press Coach of the Year in 1987, his first at Iowa, after leading the Hawkeyes to a 30-5 record. But Iowa didn't renew Davis' contract following the 1999 season, and former athletic director Bob Bowlsby tapped current coach Steve Alford as his successor.

In the eight seasons following Davis' departure, Iowa has just one NCAA Tournament victory.

Davis got back into coaching in 2003 when he took over at Drake. He often said that his tenure at Drake was on a "day-to-day" basis, but after guiding Drake back to respectability with a 17-15 mark this season and 6-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference, the elder Davis decided the time was right to walk away.

He finishes his career with a record of 598-355.

"I'm excited about the future of Drake basketball as we look to build upon our recent success," said Keno Davis. "I am appreciative of the strong support of the administration and of the growing support of our alumni, fans and community here at Drake.

"My father laid the groundwork and foundation for success in this program. Without question the highlight of my coaching career has been the opportunity to work under my father for the past four years."

Keno Davis served six years as an assistant coach under former Drake head coach Gary Garner at Southeast Missouri State, before being named the first assistant to join the men's basketball coaching staff at Drake under Tom Davis on May 19, 2003.

He also served as an assistant coach at Southern Indiana from 1995-97 under coach Bruce Pearl who is now the head coach at the University of Tennessee.

"Keno [Davis] is ready," said the elder Davis. "He has prepared himself well. He had so many years on the bench with me that he has a real good idea what we're trying to do and can communicate that to the players and coaching staff. It also was a great advantage for him to have spent eight years working with two excellent coaches in Gary Garner and Bruce Pearl."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.