FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- For 13 years, Dana Altman was content
at Creighton, helping the Bluejays win 20 games season after
Now, Altman has finally found another job that appeals to him --
coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks.
"I've had conversations with a number of schools," Altman
said. "I just felt like at 48 years of age, the time was right.
... But more importantly, it was the opportunity. Arkansas has
Altman was named the Razorbacks' new basketball coach Monday,
ending their weeklong search to replace the fired Stan Heath.
Altman was 260-141 at Creighton. The Nebraska school went 22-11
this season for its ninth straight 20-win season, a Missouri Valley
Creighton officials were more concerned recently that Altman could be off to Iowa, which is a job he had coveted. But the Hawkeyes never contacted Altman. No one was convinced that Altman was going to Arkansas.
Scott Sutton of Oral Roberts, who was a former Bluejays coach who left there to go to Arkansas, is a possible replacement for Altman, according to ESPN.com's Andy Katz. Sutton is the son of legendary coach Eddie Sutton.
In 1974, Eddie Sutton came to Arkansas from Creighton.
A source close to the situation said Creighton also is losing athletic director Bruce Rasmussen, who will go with Altman to Arkansas as his director of operations for men's basketball.
The move, viewed as a step down for an athletic director, would put Rasmussen in line for an administrative position once athletic director Frank Broyles retires, which is expected at the end of the year, the source said.
On Monday, Rasmussen dispelled that scenario.
"Obviously, I'm not in Arkansas," Rasmussen told The Associated Press. "If my
bosses will have me, I plan on continuing to be here."
Altman was introduced at a news conference in Bud Walton Arena,
with Broyles leading a "Pig Sooie" cheer.
Altman might need some tutoring on that famous tradition -- and he
was quick to look back on his days at Creighton.
"You don't stay in a place 13 years, and in 72 hours change
your feelings about a special place and a special group of players
that I had," Altman said. "So today, although I'm very excited,
has also been very tough."
Altman is 343-208 in 18 years at the Division I level. He
coached at Marshall and Kansas State before going to Creighton. He
has been linked to other jobs in the past -- such as Illinois and
Minnesota -- but the Bluejays managed to keep him until now.
"We've been hearing what's in the rumor mill since the end of
the season," Creighton guard Nick Bahe said. "For a while we took the
rumors serious, then we dismissed them. It's always a shock when
something like this goes down. When you see his name with another
university, it's weird."
Forward Dane Watts said his roommate played an April Fool's Day
joke on him Sunday, telling him that Altman had taken the Iowa job.
"The same roommate called me today and said it was Arkansas,"
Watts said. "I didn't believe it. When we had a team meeting, I
saw it was for real."
Heath was fired March 26, and Arkansas eyed Texas A&M coach
Billy Gillispie. The Razorbacks also received permission to talk to
Memphis coach John Calipari -- so Altman probably isn't the type of
big name some Arkansas fans were hoping for.
Broyles said he knows of very few recent examples of a coach
leaving one major conference team for another.
"Virtually 95 percent of the hires are people who -- I call them
non-BCS schools, but they're playing tough basketball," Broyles
said. "We knew we were eventually going to have to look for
someone who had sustained success, played the style of basketball
that our fans like, and be willing to come and build our program
The program won't need that much building. Arkansas made the
NCAA Tournament in 2006 and 2007 and had no seniors this season.
The Razorbacks heard some good news immediately after the news
conference. Freshman Patrick Beverley, this year's Southeastern
Conference newcomer of the year, announced he is staying at
Arkansas. He had wavered since Heath was fired.
Altman said he was excited to follow in the footsteps of Eddie
Sutton and Nolan Richardson. Sutton, also a former Creighton coach,
took Arkansas to the Final Four in 1978. Richardson's teams reached
the Final Four in 1990, 1994 and 1995 and won the national title in
1994 with a style of play dubbed "40 Minutes of Hell."
The soft-spoken Altman described himself as "boring" -- but he
was only talking about his personality.
"We press 40 minutes a game," he said. "It's not quite the
old Nolan press. We change it up a little bit. We'll back it up to
three-quarter and we trap in different spots. But we do press all
"We have traditionally taken a lot of 3s, but looking at the
size of some of our players coming back next year, we might go
inside a little bit more," Altman said. "But we will push the
ball up and down the floor."
Arkansas' attendance has been a concern lately, and Broyles
stressed Creighton's ability to draw a crowd under Altman. The
Bluejays averaged almost 16,000 fans this season.
"It's not just Xs and Os," Broyles said. "You're doing
something special because the fans want to come see you play."
Creighton has been to the NCAA Tournament seven times in the
last nine seasons and won a school-record 29 games in 2002-03. The
Bluejays lose Altman just a few days after assistant Kevin McKenna
left to take over the Indiana State program. Creighton lost in the
first round of the NCAA Tournament to Nevada, 77-71 in overtime.
Rasmussen said he would conduct a coaching search along with the Rev.
John Schlegel, the university president, and John Cernech, vice
president for student services and dean of students.
Rasmussen said he would consider candidates ranging from
non-Division I coaches to those with NBA backgrounds. He didn't
disclose who has contacted him about the opening.
"Your vision, your idea, would be to have someone who has had
documented success at the Division I level," Rasmussen said, "but
I wouldn't dismiss anyone."
Heath took over at Arkansas after Richardson was fired in 2002,
and it's been a while since the Razorbacks enjoyed much success on
a national scale. Arkansas hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since
Altman will be charged with helping the Razorbacks reach the
next level again. It's a challenge he looks forward to.
"I'm 48 years old," Altman said. "And with your permission
I'd like to finish my career at the University of Arkansas."
ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.