Wichita State fired coach Isaac Brown on Saturday, one day after the Shockers were bounced from the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament and two years after he was voted the league’s coach of the year.
Brown was the lead recruiter and a top assistant for former coach Gregg Marshall, who resigned in November 2020 after allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players. With the start of the season just days away, Brown was given the job and led Wichita State to the NCAA Tournament.
The Shockers finished 16-6 in Brown’s first season, which ended with a heartbreaking loss to Drake in their First Four game played an Indianapolis-area COVID-19 bubble. His top player, Tyson Etienne, was voted the AAC player of the year.
The 53-year-old had never been a head coach at any level and in February 2021 was given the permanent job by then-athletic director Darron Boatright and rewarded with a five-year contract. But the Shockers soon slid back to mediocrity, going 15-13 last season and finishing 17-15 this season.
Boatright was fired in May and Kevin Saal was hired from Murray State to replace him a month later.
“I want to thank Coach Brown for his contributions,” Saal said in a letter posted to Wichita State fans. “His love for our student-athletes and our program is unquestioned, and we are grateful for his investment in the lives of our student-athletes.
Saal will be tasked with finding a coach who restore the Shockers to the upper tier of a new-look American Athletic Conference. The league will lose top-ranked Houston, Central Florida and Cincinnati to the Big 12 after this season, and welcome six schools from Conference USA: UAB, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, Texas-San Antonio, Rice and North Texas.
Working in Saal’s favor is the fact that the Shockers are one of the more attractive mid-majors in college basketball due to a proud tradition that includes two Final Fours, the most recent in 2013.
They play in Koch Arena, known affectionately as the “The Roundhouse,” and enjoy the support of the Koch family, which has given millions in support of the school and athletic department.
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