BOSTON -- Harvard is a long way from the big-time college basketball new coach Tommy Amaker is used to. Still, the pressure to win is the same.
Amaker was introduced Friday as Harvard's new basketball coach less than a month after he was fired at Michigan, a high-profile program in the tough Big Ten. Amaker said he was looking forward to getting to know his new conference.
"The Ivy League has certainly been recognized for its academic excellence and even its athletic excellence for a number of years," he said.
Harvard athletic director Robert Scalise said Harvard's top priority is "excellence through education." He also made it clear he wants Harvard to win, saying one of Amaker's jobs is to "transform the basketball program."
Harvard's record was 68-93 during the last six seasons under Frank Sullivan, including 12-16 last season.
"We needed to hire a name coach who could prime the pump and bring excitement and energy back to the program," Scalise said.
Amaker was a four-year starter at Duke, where his coaching career began as an assistant. He got his first head coaching opportunity in 1997 at Seton Hall. After a 68-55 record over four years, including an appearance in the NCAA Tournament round of 16 in 2000, Amaker was hired by Michigan in 2001.
He went 109-83 over six seasons at Michigan, with his best season coming in 2003-04 when Michigan went 23-11 and won the NIT. But his record in the Big Ten was just 43-53 and his teams never made the NCAA Tournament.
"Although we restored the program at Michigan and had three seasons of 20 or more wins, we weren't able to get into the NCAA Tournament on a consistent basis and that was a huge disappointment to me," Amaker said.
Scalise said Amaker will have plenty of support as he tries to revitalize Harvard.
"When we hired Coach Amaker we made a partnership with him to provide him with all of the resources he would need to be successful and bring championships to the school, and we will stand behind that commitment," he said.