Mike Alden, center, announced the resignation of Mizzou men's basketball coach Mike Anderson, with student athletes Marcus Denmon, left, and Kim English on hand. (Photo by Nick Gerhardt)
At long last, a resolution: Mike Anderson resigned his post as head men’s basketball coach, athletic director Mike Alden announced during a 9 p.m. press conference Wednesday at Mizzou Arena.
“I received a phone call at 6:15 this afternoon asking if I could meet with Mike Anderson at 6:45. I met with him… and he informed me at that time that he would be resigning his position as men’s basketball coach,” Alden said.
After nearly two decades on the Arkansas bench as an assistant head coach, Anderson will replace recently-fired head coach John Pelphrey.
Anderson never faced the media on Wednesday. He held a private meeting with players and Mizzou Athletics staff around 7 p.m. CST. He arrived and parked his car in the designated head coach’s spot. In a seemingly symbolic move, a staffer moved it to the far corner of the parking lot several minutes later. Anderson, who announced earlier this month that he wanted to retire a Missouri Tiger, appeared to go to great lengths to avoid the people who had waited for days to hear from him.
After the private meeting, MU forward Steve Moore emerged from Mizzou Arena first. His eyes puffy, the largest man in Missouri basketball walked as briskly as he could without jogging, slammed his own car door and drove away without a word. Senior guard Jarrett Sutton paused in front of the swarming cameras to give a statement. Junior guards Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Matt Pressey emerged from the building seconds later.
Mizzou Sports Information Director Dave Reitter, left, and senior walk-on guard Jarrett Sutton at Wednesday's Press Conference.
“Jarrett, we can’t talk yet,” English said as he passed the assemblage. “Wait until the press conference at nine o’clock.”
English reminded teammate Marcus Denmon to wear his black Missouri basketball polo that evening before driving home to do the same.
By the time 9 p.m. rolled around, the press conference was addressing old news. Most media outlets had already reported Anderson’s imminent departure.
From the interview room in the belly of Mizzou Arena, Mike Alden told a throng of journalists, coaches, and other figureheads within Mizzou Athletics to stay positive .
“We’re just very thankful that he made the decision to stay the course with us five years ago, and we’re a better program because of that,” Alden said.
Anderson had a short stint at the University of Alabama-Birmingham before joining the Missouri Tigers in 2006.
Mizzou was not considered a destination job then. Now, thanks in large part to the work of Anderson, the position has regained much of the prestige it lost in the years between the era of legendary coach Norm Stewart and the brief but powerfully destructive reign of Quin Snyder.
“[Mizzou has] developed into a nationally elite program again. We had been in the past, and we have regained that status,” Alden said.
Prospective seniors Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Laurence Bowers spoke on behalf the players. Denmon, the captain of this team, defended the intentions of his former coach and laid rumors to rest.
“I went and talked to coach Anderson to see if he was leaving because I didn’t want to hear it from the media or anyone else. He let me know that, as of [Sunday], he was Missouri’s coach and he didn’t plan on changing,” Denmon said.
“It was a really tough decision he made today.”
The players, if the statements from English, Bowers and Denmon indicate the general mood of the rest of the team, could not fault their former coach.
Arkansas “was a special place to him, where he spent 17 years. [He said] we were his family, and I believe those words…he let us know that if we ever need anything from him, we can pick up the phone and call,” English said.
“I thought he was going to stay but it turned out differently,” Bowers said.
“But i mean he’s a great guy. I don’t want a lot of people to place bad words on him or anything like that…I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Coach Anderson.”
In the ensuing months, questions will be asked about the possibility of current Mizzou players following Anderson south. The senior class, at least, seemed intent on staying.
“I came here to play for Missouri…I took it really hard [when Anderson resigned] being that I’ve known him my whole life, pretty much,” Bowers said.
“But I play for Missouri. You can’t dwell on the past.”
Anderson will announce his new position as head men’s basketball coach for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks during a press conference Saturday, March 26 at 11:30 a.m. CST.
A brief lesson in dodging question from former Missouri head coach Mike Anderson.