Berque Out at Michigan; Washington, Oregon Seeking New Women's Coaches; ITA Regional Winners Announced
The University of Michigan announced late Monday that Bruce Berque, the Wolverines' men's coach for the past ten years,will not return for the 2014-15 season, and the school will be conducting a national search for a successor.
Berque was the the ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year in 2012, and the Wolverines made the NCAA tournament for nine straight years under his leadership, including an Sweet 16 appearance in 2008.
Much like the University of Florida, however, which accepted Andy Jackson's resignation in 2012, the expectations at Michigan are high for all the athletic programs, and Berque was unable to break the stranglehold that Ohio State has had on the Big Ten conference, despite going 66-25 in the conference, and 159-104 overall.
The Buckeyes have consistently been the conference's top program for years now, and the current athletic director at Michigan, David Brandon, who started in 2010 and did not hire Berque, chose to look elsewhere for a coach to change that. An excellent recruiting class for this fall will be part of Berque's legacy, yet as always in situations like this, it is difficult for those student-athletes, who are committed to Michigan, but do not know now who their coach will be.
Berque, who was an assistant at the University of Illinois for six years prior to taking the top job at Michigan, told me he currently doesn't have any plans as far as future employment.
The next two weeks in Athens will be rife with speculation about possible candidates to replace Berque, but as was the case with Bryan Shelton replacing Jackson at Florida, the names that come immediately to mind may not be the person who ultimately takes over the program.
Two other major conference positions that have opened up in the past week include the women's programs at the University of Washington and the University of Oregon. Jill Hultquist is no longer coaching the Huskies, and Paul Reber has stepped down as Ducks head coach. The Pepperdine women's head coaching position is also open, with the Waves announcing the retirement of Gualberto Escudero last month, after 37 years in Malibu.
The ITA today announced the Division I Regional Award winners, with the the National winners being named next Tuesday at the annual awards luncheon prior to the NCAA team finals.