Why College Basketball Teams Are Turning to Alumni to Find Coaches

It’s why former N.B.A. players like Clyde Drexler (Houston), Chris Mullin (St. John’s), Eddie Jordan (Rutgers) and Kevin Ollie (Connecticut) did not have enduring success at their alma maters, though Ollie did win a national championship before fizzling. And it is why Patrick Ewing has struggled at Georgetown, where his team lost its final 21 games this season.

“Most of the guys that have been in the N.B.A., they’ve made so much money, they didn’t really care that much about coaching,” said Roy Williams, who retired last year as North Carolina’s coach after winning three national titles and cheered on Davis in Philadelphia last weekend.

More recently, though, there are signs of success.

Mike Woodson at Indiana, Penny Hardaway at Memphis and Aaron McKie at Temple, along with Howard and Davis, have their alma maters trending in the right direction. Only Woodson, a distinguished N.B.A. coach, had much experience as a head coach.

Memphis has been to the N.C.A.A. tournament just once in three tries under Hardaway, but his impact at the school was immediate: Attendance jumped by 7,840 people in his first season, the biggest spike in college basketball in 25 years. He has surrounded himself with N.B.A. veterans — the former players Rasheed Wallace and Mike Miller have been on his staff, as is Brown, the only coach to win both an N.B.A. and N.C.A.A. championship. But last week, the N.C.A.A. charged Memphis with four major recruiting violationsincluding failure to cooperate with investigators.

When Leon Costello, the athletic director at Montana State, was looking for a basketball coach to rejuvenate a languishing program, he could not turn to a list of former N.B.A. players.

But he could turn to Danny Sprinkle, a freshman star on the Montana State team that reached the 1996 N.C.A.A. tournament. Sprinkle also had experience as an assistant at the school.