Basketball

Arizona hires Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd as next basketball coach after firing Sean Miller

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Tommy Lloyd, the longtime top assistant to Mark Few at Gonzaga, has been named Arizona’s next men’s basketball coach, the school confirmed on Wednesday. CBS Sports previously reported the news of Lloyd’s impending hire earlier in the day. 

Lloyd beat out three former Arizona players/current coaches in varying capacities: Pacific head coach Damon Stoudamire, Arizona assistant Jason Terry and Lakers assistant Miles Simon. Arizona alum Josh Pastner also interviewed for the job, sources told CBS Sports. 

“I am extremely grateful to President Robbins and Dave Heeke for the incredible opportunity to lead one of the country’s most storied men’s basketball programs,” Lloyd said. “While there are certainly potential obstacles ahead for our program, I embrace the challenge as we will build on the foundation in place to compete for PAC-12 and national championships. I know how much Arizona Basketball means to the institution, its fans, its community and the state, and I cannot wait to get started. That works begin now. My family and I are excited to settle in Tucson and begin a new chapter.”

Gonzaga has had an agreement with Lloyd for years to be Few’s successor whenever Few retires, but Arizona is regarded as a top-10 job in college basketball and this opportunity is too good to pass up. For Lloyd, 46, it’s a chance he’s been waiting for and one he’s earned. Alongside Few, he helped build Gonzaga’s program into one of the best in the sport. 

Lloyd landed the job after interviewing with Arizona president Bobby Robbins on Saturday. Discussions slowed for a few days while Arizona circled back on candidates before taking next steps. Things accelerated Wednesday, when Lloyd became the clear choice. This will be his first job as a head coach. 

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Lloyd’s hiring comes a week removed from Arizona’s delayed firing of Sean Miller, who went 302-109 in 12 years. Miller coached the past three seasons under a cloud of controversy after a former assistant pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges that landed him in prison for six months. 

“We are thrilled that Tommy and his family are joining the Wildcat Family and reestablishing our men’s basketball program among the elite in the nation,” Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said. “After speaking with a tremendous pool of candidates, and with so many in and out of the college basketball world, it became clear that Tommy has the passion, the experience, the knowledge, the coaching and recruiting acumen and the drive to lead us to championships. He has been a big part of the incredible rise and success of Gonzaga Basketball and is well-respected for his partnership with that program’s head coach, Mark Few. We are looking forward to what’s next, and we welcome Tommy, Chanelle and their children, Liam, Sophia Marie and Maria Alexis to Tucson.”

Miller was terminated with one year left on his deal but only fired after the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament. Robbins, who made the decision to hire Lloyd, put a self-imposed 2021 postseason ban on the program. Arizona’s season ended in early March, but it took Robbins more than a month to fire Miller anyway. 

The timing of Miller’s firing lining up with Gonzaga’s run to the national championship game led to speculation in college basketball circles for more than a week that Lloyd was Arizona’s top target all along. 

Arizona still awaits likely punishment from the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP). Sources told CBS Sports that it’s considered unlikely those punishments will be determined before 2022. It’s possible Lloyd’s first season will not include any discipline from the IARP. It also remains to be seen how impactful Miller’s ouster will be to that process and whether it leads to any lighter punishments.  

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