LINCOLN — After seven years, the Tim Miles era has come to an end.
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos announced on Tuesday that Miles has been relieved of his duties as the head basketball coach.
Miles finishes his time at Nebraska with a record of 116-114. That's the third-most wins in school history, but his winning percentage (.504) is better than only one Husker coach (Barry Collier) since 1964. The Huskers reached the NCAA tournament once under Miles and never advanced past the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament.
“Tim Miles is a good basketball coach who has put his heart, soul and energy into the Nebraska men’s basketball program over the past seven years,” Moos said in a press release. “Ultimately, we have not maintained a level of consistent success and stability on the court, and after a full review I have made the decision to move in another direction for the leadership of our program.”
Per Miles’ contract, he’ll be owed $105,000 per month through March 2021 — about $2.5 million total — though that amount could decrease if Miles takes another job.
The move comes after Miles and Nebraska finished a disappointing season with a 19-17 mark. That was a dramatic fall after the Huskers started the year 11-2 and rose as high as No. 24 in the Associated Press poll.
But Nebraska lost seven straight in January and 11 of its final 14 games of the regular season, derailing the season and the chances for Miles' return.
Nebraska did provide some excitement toward the end, earning a dramatic come-from-behind overtime win over Iowa in the regular season finale and two wins in the Big Ten tournament.
That helped the Huskers secure an NIT bid for the second straight year, but a second-round loss at TCU marked the end to Miles' time at Nebraska.
“Thank you to the University of Nebraska for a remarkable journey," Miles said in a press release. "It was a great honor to represent this University the past seven years. I am extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish during my tenure, most notably developing relationships with so many fantastic people associated with the Huskers."
Nebraska is now looking for its fourth head coach since 2000.
Nebraska’s main target for the position is former Iowa State and Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, a source close to Nebraska athletics told The World-Herald last week.
Hoiberg, 46, was born in Lincoln and is the grandson of Jerry Bush, who coached Nebraska from 1954-63. Hoiberg moved to Ames, Iowa, as a child and played at Iowa State before going on to a 10-year NBA career.
Hoiberg began his coaching career in 2010 when he was hired by his alma mater after serving in a front office role with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He went 16-16 in his first season with the Cyclones, then made four straight NCAA tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2014. Iowa State won the Big 12 tournament in his final two seasons before he left for Chicago in 2015.
Hoiberg went 115-155 with the Bulls before being fired in December.
“I am confident there will be strong interest from the coaching community about the opportunity to lead our men’s basketball program,” Moos said. “We are fully committed to providing the necessary resources to position our basketball program for success on the conference and national level. I expect to find a head coach who will elevate Nebraska basketball to new heights.”
The Miles era ushered Nebraska into the Big Ten and Pinnacle Bank Arena. But an NCAA tournament bid in 2013-14 and "No-sit Sunday" will be overshadowed by two seasons of disappointment that followed the promise of the season prior.
Miles was hired in March 2012 by then-Athletic Director Tom Osborne with a five-year, $1.4 million contract. In his second season, Miles helped Nebraska to its second NCAA tournament appearance in 20 years when NU won 10 of its final 12 games, including wins at Michigan State and Indiana. In the regular season finale, Pinnacle Bank Arena hosted "No-sit Sunday" against No. 9 Wisconsin. The Huskers won, 77-68, which sent NU to the NCAA tournament, but Nebraska lost as an 11 seed to Baylor 74-60.
Nebraska couldn’t capitalize on that momentum in the next season, losing 11 of its final 12 games to finish 13-18. But Miles was rewarded by newly hired Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst for his first three seasons with a new five-year, $2.1 million contract.
In year four, Miles and NU finished 16-18, and Eichorst chose not to extend Miles’ contract.
Year five was Miles’ worst with a 12-19 record. But after Nebraska lost to Penn State in the first game of the Big Ten tournament, Eichorst tweeted just before Miles’ postgame press conference he was looking forward to Miles’ “continued leadership.”
The Huskers bounced back in the 2017-18 season with a 22-11 record. But they also became the first team in Big Ten history to finish with 13 conference wins and not get into the NCAA tournament. NU lost in the first round of the NIT at Mississippi State, 66-59.
Moos, who took over for Eichorst in the fall of 2017, chose to extend Miles’ contract just one year, which most saw as a “trial period” with the new A.D.
“I like the direction we are moving with Tim," Moos said in April 2018. “I just felt to protect the university at this juncture that a one-year extension to three overall would be good, and we could talk about it again after next year."
Nebraska returned its four best players entering the 2018-19 season with Isaiah Roby, James Palmer, Isaac Copeland and Glynn Watson. But it didn't pan out as planned, and Miles' final season at Nebraska came to an end in disappointing fashion.
Moos has hired a basketball coach three times as an athletic director. The first time was in 1990, when he promoted assistant coach Blaine Taylor to take over Montana. Twice Moos chose to hire Ernie Kent, first at Oregon in 1997, then at Washington State in 2014. Kent was fired at Oregon after 13 seasons but twice took the Ducks to the Elite Eight. Kent went 58-98 in five seasons at Washington State and was fired on March 14.
The last four hires for Nebraska have come from mid-major schools, including Ohio, Butler, UTEP and Colorado State. In 2001, Husker A.D. Bill Byrne first went after Bill Self at Tulsa, then chased Leonard Hamilton of Miami and Oliver Purnell of Dayton. Byrne eventually went with the Plan B pool and took Butler's Barry Collier.
In 2006, after Collier didn’t get a contract extension, he resigned in early August to become Butler's athletic director. It took seven days to replace him with Doc Sadler. A.D. Steve Pederson and Marc Boehm, executive associate athletic director — with the help of ChampSearch run by California twins David and Dana Pump — picked Sadler after also looking at Mark Fox of Nevada, Karl Hobbs of George Washington, Randy Bennett of St. Mary’s and John Pelphrey of South Alabama.
Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall was offered the Nebraska job in 2012, but declined, according to three World-Herald sources. Gonzaga’s Mark Few turned down an interview.
In a hotel in Atlanta, Miles impressed Osborne and Boehm during his interview. Nebraska announced the Miles hiring live on BTN on March 25, 2012.
“When Dr. Tom Osborne bets on you, you want to come through for him,” Miles said that day. “You give us a chance and we’re gonna come through for ya. We’ve exceeded expectations everywhere we’ve been.”