Faced with the prospect of trying to maintain success in the face of possible NCAA sanctions, Long Beach State officials introduced Dan Monson as the man for the job Saturday at a news conference announcing his hiring as the school's new men's basketball coach.
"We got the right guy," Long Beach State Athletic Director Vic Cegles said. "You always want someone you feel has the integrity and the honesty, and the fact that he's done it before certainly was a factor for us."
Monson, 45, comes to Long Beach State after seven-plus seasons as head coach at Minnesota, where he compiled 118-106 record and led the Gophers to National Invitation Tournament or NCAA postseason tournament appearances in five of his last six seasons before he resigned in November after a 2-5 start this season.
His tenure at Minnesota was largely successful despite the fact he inherited a program in 1999-2000 that was hit with NCAA sanctions as a result of a scandal involving widespread academic fraud under previous coach Clem Haskins.
"I think I got this job for my experience, and certainly, I have an experience in that," Monson said.
"I went through some difficult things at Minnesota, but I feel I'm a better coach for it. I think I'm better prepared for this opportunity because of it."
He replaces Larry Reynolds, who was let go in March after five years despite leading the 49ers to a 24-8 record and into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995.
Reynolds' success was marred by an ongoing NCAA investigation into possible recruiting violations. Monson's was not.
Before rebuilding at Minnesota, Monson enjoyed a successful two-year stint as head coach at Gonzaga, where he led the team to a 52-17 record and an appearance in the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight in 1999.
"That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said. "I don't want to be Gonzaga. I want to be Long Beach State."
Monson has agreed to a six-year contract worth $200,000 a year, plus incentives tied to postseason appearances, ticket sales and the academic performances of his players, according to F. King Alexander, the Long Beach State president. Other candidates for the job had included former UCLA assistant Kerry Keating and former UCLA player Cameron Dollar, an assistant at Washington. Keating, the top recruiter for UCLA Coach Ben Howland, pulled out of contention Thursday to become the coach at Santa Clara.