After Seton Hall’s loss to No. 9 TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, head coach Kevin Willard heads to the Big 10 as Maryland’s new head coach. Willard served as Seton Hall’s head coach for 12 years in which he earned two Big East Championships in 2016 and 2020, five NCAA tournament berths, and seven 20-win seasons. The Pirates were expected to have a sixth berth in 2020 as a 3rd seed, though the tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Willard climbed the rankings of the program’s all-time winningest men’s basketball coaches, where he sits at 2nd with 225 wins. He surpassed P.J. Carlesimo’s 212 victories earlier in the 2021-2022 season.
"Seton Hall will always be a special place for my family and me," Willard announced, “I'm proud of everything that we accomplished. We were able to build not only a great program, but we were also able to build a second family with my players, staff, and the entire University community.
The entire community is thankful for how Willard transformed the program over a decade ago. Seton Hall Director of Athletics Bryan Felt, who worked with Willard for 10 of his 12 years at The Hall, praised "Kevin came in and immediately changed the culture of our program and built it into a perennial BIG EAST Championship and NCAA Tournament contender with student-athletes who succeed in the classroom and represent the University in a first-class manner. We've been able to win championships and be among the nation's best because of Kevin's tireless work in recruiting and developing young men and mentoring them into college graduates.”
Seton Hall President Joseph Nyre, whose prior position was at Iona just as Willard’s was, showed appreciation for “12 years of servant leadership to our student-athletes and our university… Seton Hall men's basketball transformed into one of the best programs in the country. We wish Kevin and his family all the best as they start a new chapter.”
Kevin Willard looks ahead to his newest task: rebuilding a Terrapins program that experienced its first losing season in almost 30 years. Willard added Maryland to the Pirates’ non-conference schedule in both 2018 and 2019. “Growing up and coaching in the region, I have always admired Maryland basketball. Being named head coach of one of the nation's premier basketball programs is a tremendous honor,” Willard voiced.
Saint Peter’s University head coach Shaheen Holloway, who has led his No. 15 ranked team to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament and a spectacular upset over No. 2 Kentucky, has been strongly linked to the opening. He is more than likely Willard’s successor to run Seton Hall’s program. In Kevin Willard’s post-game presser after the loss to TCU, he proclaimed, "I'll be honest with you. If I'm not here next year, I'd love if Shaheen Holloway is here, that would be the happiest thing to happen to me."
Seton Hall will not make a statement until a successor is found, but all signs point to the former Pirates guard taking over as head coach.