Former Georgia Tech and Dayton coach Brian Gregory has accepted one of the most daunting reclamation projects in men's college basketball, agreeing to become the 10th permanent coach in USF history.
CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, citing unnamed sources, first reported the hire Tuesday morning, and USF made it official a few hours later. A former longtime Michigan State assistant, Gregory, 248-180 in 13 seasons as a Division I-A coach, has spent this season as a Spartans consultant.
He replaces Orlando Antigua, dismissed Jan. 3 after compiling a 23-55 record in 21/2 seasons. Akron coach Keith Dambrot and Bulls interim coach Murry Bartow also were believed to be in contention for the job, with Dambrot reportedly spurning an offer from USF.
Bartow is expected to remain with the program in some capacity.
"(Gregory) has been a part of championship winning programs as a player, assistant coach and head coach and has built a very strong reputation as a tireless recruiter, skilled tactician and a coach who cares deeply about his players and graduating them," Bulls athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement released by the school.
"Brian will lead USF men's basketball to a very exciting future."
The short-term future, however, appears grim at best.
USF, which just wrapped up a 7-23 season, is in the waning stage of an NCAA investigation for possible academic wrongdoing. Additionally, top scorer Geno Thorpe confirmed last week he won't return for his senior season, one day after a report that sophomore forward Luis Santos had sought his release.
Those departures leave USF with eight scholarship players, but more defections are expected.
As a result, the program's Academic Progress Rate, the measure used by the NCAA to track student-athletes' graduation chances, could take a severe hit. Programs with an APR score below 930 can face sanctions including scholarship reductions. On the APR ledger, Gregory, a 50-year-old married dad of two, arrives with some sparkling credentials.
Though he was only 76-86 in five seasons at Georgia Tech, which fired him in 2016, every Yellow Jackets four-year senior under Gregory graduated, and the team's APR and Graduation Success Rate scores were at their highest levels since the NCAA began tracking programs' academic performance.
Six Tech players earned academic all-ACC honors.
Prior to that, Gregory, a teammate of David Robinson's at Navy for one year, led Dayton to five 20-win seasons and two NCAA Tournament berths in eight years. Each of the 23 seniors to play for Gregory at Dayton graduated, according to USF.
"I am very excited to get to work, to talk with the players and to meet Bulls Nation and the bay area community," Gregory, who finished his playing career at Oakland University, said in the USF statement.
Terms of Gregory's contract weren't immediately available. He becomes the third men's basketball coach (fourth, counting Bartow) that USF will pay next season. Both Antigua and his predecessor, Stan Heath, are still owed their $375,000 base salaries through the spring of 2019 and '18, respectively.