As has been his custom after each season, Tommy Amaker met with the media Monday at Harvard’s Murr Center to discuss the Crimson’s campaign. But Amaker also addressed his decision to return to the Ivy League school after he surfaced as a potential candidate for the job vacancy at Boston College.
Amaker’s seventh season at Harvard produced a program-record 27 wins and was highlighted by a fourth consecutive Ivy League title, a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, and a second-round tourney win for the second straight season.
“I think it’s important to recognize the greatness of the institution,’’ said Amaker, who has reached at least 20 wins in five consecutive seasons. “I think the pillar of what we’re doing here is wrapped around the brand of the name Harvard.’’
Amaker drew BC suitors looking to gauge his interest after Steve Donahue was dismissed as coach following an 8-24 season. In four seasons at The Heights, Donahue was 54-76 overall and 24-44 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But Amaker removed himself from consideration Saturday with a statement that reaffirmed his decision to remain at Harvard.
“I just thought there was speculation about my future and I would have preferred not to have to do anything, but that’s not always the world we live in,’’ Amaker said Monday, addressing the media for the first time about the matter.
“I thought it would be helpful and I’m confident and comfortable that we were thoughtful. And that’s the statement we issued; what I said is that I continue to realize that my heart is at Harvard and that’s how I feel and that’s what I wanted to say and I thought that was necessary given the speculation concerning my future.’’
Asked if he had been contacted by BC, Amaker replied, “Again, I made that statement, not mentioning or talking about any other position but my own.
“Hopefully, my statement suffices for anything surrounding my future and my immediate future . . . I know there are ongoing things with many programs and universities and it’s the right way of handling it for me, personally.
“I just don’t engage in any talk about other places, I just talk about where I am and what we’re doing.’’
Next season Amaker will have six seniors, led by guard Wesley Saunders (14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds per game this season) and five juniors, including guard Siyani Chambers (11.1 points, 4.6 assists). He also will welcome back senior center Kenyatta Smith from injury and sophomore guard Corbin Miller from a two-year Mormon mission in Mexico.
“I’m encouraged about the returners on our team, the depth of our team, and the veteran leadership of our team,’’ said Amaker.
But what did it say about BC’s vacancy that Amaker found his Ivy League job eminently more desirable?
BC’s next coach may find himself struggling to stay afloat in a conference that is adding Louisville as its 16th team.
The Eagles’ next coach will have to recruit from a smaller pool than the rest of the league because of BC’s exacting academic standards and admission, while being hamstrung by a practice facility that ranks among the worst in the league and must be shared with the women’s basketball and volleyball teams.
BC’s search committee has had to readjust its sights to second-tier options, which would explain the dalliances last week with St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt, 51, a 1985 BC alum and North Attleboro native, and longtime Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, 44, who reportedly interviewed over the weekend.
Towson coach Pat Skerry, 44, a Tufts graduate from Medford who went 24-25 in two seasons at Curry College (1997-98), has surfaced as a potential candidate, as has Ohio coach Jim Christian, who in two seasons with the Bobcats has gone 49-22 and earned postseason bids to the NIT and CBI tourneys.
But the coach who seemed to fit the profile of the perfect candidate — capable of energizing the masses and moving the needle on the program — has opted to remain at Harvard.
Widely regarded as the heir apparent at Duke, succeeding his former coach, Mike Krzyzewski, Amaker was asked if he has his dream job.
“I have it,’’ he said. “For me, I am where I want to be . . . we’re doing what we had hoped we could be part of doing one day. To see this happen at this unique and special place is very rewarding to me.’’Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org