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The Next Duke A.D. Will Have A Big Challenge

But the challenge won’t be the same for everyone

Mike Krzyzewski Reaches for Imaginary Notes, After Being Named Head Coach
Duke hasn’t hired a basketball coach since Mike Krzyzewski in 1980

Kevin White announced his impending retirement on Friday and Duke announced its intention to conduct a nationwide search for his replacement.

There are a lot of reasons to be intrigued by the job. Duke is in the ACC which for a lot of guys would be a step up. And thanks in no small measure to White, the facilities are vastly improved.

Duke’s current players may not know this, but Duke’s weight room, such as it was, used to be under the swimming pool and one of Bill Foster’s frustrations was that the parking lot in front of Cameron was not paved.

It’s still not - now it’s part of Krzyzewskiville, in front of the Schwartz-Butters Athletic Center. Facility-wise, Duke has vastly improved and White had a lot to do with that.

Football has also improved as David Cutcliffe has proven that Duke can play competitive, exciting football.

Then of course there’s Duke basketball.

Duke has played basketball for 115 years and Mike Krzyzewski has been coach for 41 of those years or slightly more than a third of Duke’s basketball history.

Duke has won 2,201 games all time and Coach K has won 1,087 of those, or just a hair under half of all of Duke’s wins.

He’s also won all of Duke’s five national championships and all but four of Duke’s 12 Final Four appearances have come under his watch and 15 of Duke’s 19 ACC championships are his.

And as much as Duke fans might like him to coach for another 40 years, he’s 74 and mortal like the rest of us.

So whoever the next AD is gets to replace that.

It’s not going to be easy and almost no matter what you do, people won’t be happy.

Think about it this way: other than 1995, two generations have no concept of Duke doing anything but winning, and one generation has no clue about 1995.

It’s going to be extremely tough.

We could make an argument for Mike Cragg, assuming he's interested in leaving New York, which might be easier given the impact of the pandemic there, and here it is: assuming Duke wants to keep it in the family, he already knows the family. He was intimately involved in the basketball program during his time here and would know more than anyone else would on Day One.

We could also imagine Duke looking to Cragg’s former colleague Stan Wilcox or the ACC’s Amy Yakola. Did you know her husband is on the Duke faculty? Have you driven to Greensboro lately?

Of course there’s a chance that Duke could go after someone younger and more in sync with the changing game. There might be a brilliant young AD at a place like UT-Chattanooga or Montana or maybe Central Florida, where White’s son Danny has been tremendously impressive.

Does anyone else come to mind?

Well we can think of one person who might be interested. She’s a double-Duke grad, she has experience with the NCAA and is currently a respected conference commissioner who has shown she has the courage to make unpopular decisions.

We’re referring of course to Ivy League Commissioner Robin Harris. We’re a bit biased since we know her personally but she has an impressive resume now that anyone can look up. She’d be great.