Mar 31 2014, 11:17pm CDT | by Poch de la Rosa
The Golden Bears' official athletics website issued a press release about the matter:
"Mike Montgomery, one of college basketball's all-time winningest coaches, has announced his retirement as head men's basketball coach at the University of California, Berkley. Montgomery, who directed the Golden Bears' program to postseason appearances during each of his six seasons at the school, enjoyed a storied career that spanned more than four decades and also included head coaching stints at rival Stanford, Montana and with the Golden State Warriors."
Montgomery told the team's official athletics website he feels now is the right time to step down.
"I have enjoyed 45 years coaching the game I love while developing long-lasting friendships along the way. This is a decision that was not made lightly. This is the right time for me to move on to the next phase of my life.
"I want to thank my colleagues in the coaching profession and the student-athletes I've had the opportunity to coach and mentor. It has been an incredible journey and now I look forward to devoting more time to my family and visiting the countless friends I have met during my career.
"The six years I have spent at Cal have been some of the greatest in my career and I want to thank Sandy (Barbour, Director of Athletics) and the administration for their outstanding support.
"This is a great program and Cal basketball is positioned for success for many years to come. The success I have enjoyed here would not be possible without the unconditional support from everyone I have been fortunate enough to work with throughout my coaching career."
The Associated Press (via CSNBayArea.com) reports he "made the announcement after meeting with Barbour on Monday morning." Montgomery also told his team about this in private, becoming very emotional as he did so.
In the same report, Barbour said,"Clearly this program is in very good position and it's thanks to Mike Montgomery and his staff."
Montgomery recommended assistant Travis DeCuire to succeed him as head coach, The Associated Press report notes. He cited DeCuire's ability to maintain the players' good academic standing and camaraderie.
"The players in our program trust Travis and that is huge in today's business. They want to play for him and he's developed relationships with these kids and he's developed relationships with people we need to recruit."
Barbour maintains DeCuire is a "significant candidate" but would still conduct a national search in order to find the individual who is the "absolute best fit." She will go to Texas for the Final Four weekend where she may bump into Montgomery's potential replacement, per The Associated Press.
The University of California, Berkley hired Montgomery six years ago after he coached the Warriors from 2004 to 2006. Since then, he led the Golden Bears to a 130-73 record and four NCAA tournament appearances, per Michael Rosen of The Daily Californian.
Rosen says Montgomery's best season was in 2009-10 when the team had a 13-5 win-loss record in conference play, clinching the Pac 10 regular-season championship. Cal would advance to the round of 32, only to lose to the Duke Blue Devils.
That was the farthest Montgomery would be able to take the team, stresses Rosen.
In his prior stint as head men's basketball coach of the rival Stanford Cardinal from 1986-2004, the team made the NCAA tournament 12 times. Montogomery advanced past the round of 32 thrice, eventually reaching the Final Four in 1998.
In 24 years as a coach in the conference, Montgomery copped four Pac-10 coach of the year awards, Rosen adds.
Montgomery wound up 68-96 in two seasons as head coach of the Warriors. Nonetheless, ESPN notes he retired after assuming three of the most prestigious head coaching jobs in the Northern California area.
He was diagonsed with bladder cancer three years ago. He has since been cancer-free after undergoing treatment, per The Daily Californian. He said,"My health is great. I just wanted to go out on my own terms."
The 67-year-old Montgomery, who ends his coaching career with a 677-317 (.681) record, told The Associated Press he is planning to become a basketball analyst or help the basketball staff in some capacity.
However, he still feels anxious about his life after retiring from coaching.
"It's a little scary to be honest with you. I don't know what I'll do at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. I've been walking into a gym for 53 years. Every afternoon I've walked into a gym. I'll miss that but it's time to try to find something else."
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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