Denver signs coach Scott to a five-year contract

Updated: March 21, 2007, 11:06 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Joe Scott is coming home.

Colorado, where he takes over as Denver's new coach, feels like home for the New Jersey native. The 41-year-old Scott left the same position at Princeton, his alma mater, to return to Colorado, where he was head coach at Air Force for four seasons.

"I really feel like I am coming home," Scott said during a news conference at the school Wednesday.

Scott signed a five-year contract to coach the Pioneers, Denver athletic director Peg Bradley-Doppes said. No financial terms were disclosed.

"I looked at what demonstrated excellence here in the region, who was doing it right, how did they do it and what pieces were in place," Bradley-Doppes said. "And over and over again, Joe Scott's name came up."

It took 2½ weeks to choose Scott from 33 applicants to become the 31st coach at Denver. She said the list was reduced to 12 and the three finalists were interviewed on campus.

"It was fast and furious because we were aware that Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming all had openings," Bradley-Doppes said. "The timing was great because it wouldn't have worked if we had looked much longer."

Scott said he was almost surprised at being chosen.

"I never went into it thinking I'm leaving Princeton," he said. "I saw, here at Denver was this overture, here is this interest and the next thing you know it's go."

Scott had a 38-45 record in three seasons at Princeton, including an 11-17 record this past season. The Tigers were last in the Ivy League at 2-12, their worst finish in the conference.

It was a disappointing drop for a program that has won 25 Ivy titles and has won or shared 46 league crowns in the last 49 years.

"There's perception and there's reality," Scott said. "The perception is I was disappointed with the end result, but the reality is I started three freshmen and I know they are going to be very good."

Scott replaces Terry Carroll, who was fired after six seasons at Denver after taking an extended leave of absence. The Pioneers went 4-25 this season and finished last in the Sun Belt West Division at 3-15.

Before taking over at Princeton, Scott led Air Force to the NCAA Tournament in 2004, its first appearance since 1962. He recruited all the current Falcons seniors.

Air Force defeated DePaul 52-51 in the NIT quarterfinals Wednesday night to advance to the semifinals on March 27 at Madison Square Garden.

Under Scott, Air Force posted a 51-63 overall mark. The new coach said he's aware of the similarities of the two programs, including being asked to turn around a program.

"The opportunity is great to find guys from different areas that are gym rats who love to play and care about education," he said. "I want to find the same kind of people that play hard on both ends of the court at all times."

Scott said he would begin immediately to assemble a staff and start recruiting.

"There isn't a lot of time," he said. "I'd like to start hiring tomorrow."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press