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Pitt Basketball

Jeff Capel Next Head Coach at Pitt



DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 29: Assistant Head Coach Jeff Capelnduring the 2nd half of the Duke Blue Devils game versus the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on January 29, 2018, at Cameron Indoor Stadium (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire)

Pitt is expected to announce that Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel III will be the program’s next head coach, replacing Kevin Stallings.

Sources tell Pittsburgh Sports Now that Capel has signed a seven-year contract and that a press conference is expected to take place on Wednesday. A team meeting is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Furthermore, sources tell PSN that Capel could hire former Pitt player and assistant coach Brandin Knight as one of his assistants.

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke confirmed the hire with a press release Tuesday afternoon. The hire was first reported by Evan Daniels of 247 Sports.

“We are excited to announce Jeff Capel as our head men’s basketball coach at the University of Pittsburgh,” Lyke said. “Coach Capel is a high-energy leader committed to being a part of our university and the city of Pittsburgh. He has a tremendous basketball pedigree and a strong track record of recruiting, developing and mentoring high-quality student-athletes. His relentless work ethic, passion for the game and clear vision of how to build a program capable of competing at the highest levels in the ACC and on the national stage are impressive. I look forward to our student-athletes, fans, donors and the Oakland Zoo getting to know Coach Capel and his family and watching this program flourish under his direction.”

Capel, 43, has been with Duke since 2011 and prior to that was head coach at VCU from 2002 to 2006 and at Oklahoma from 2006 to 2011. where he compiled at record of 162-110. In his four years at VCU, Capel won 79 games and had a winning percentage of .658.

Capel has the reputation as a very good recruiter and has played a key role in landing a number of Duke’s five-star recruits over the last few years. Duke had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country in both 2016 and 2017 and has the top-rated class for 2018.

“I am honored to be named the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball program,” Capel said. “Pitt has a great tradition of success and I look forward to putting together a staff and team that will enable us to build on that tradition. As a lifelong Steelers fan, I know Pittsburgh as the ‘City of Champions’ and our goal from day one will be to recruit, coach and develop champions on the court, in the classroom and in the community.

“My lifelong journey around the game of basketball has taught me to surround yourself with great people that you believe in. My meetings with Director of Athletics Heather Lyke and Chancellor Gallagher made a huge impact in the decision process. I was thoroughly impressed with their vision for the University of Pittsburgh, the athletic department and our program. I look forward to building outstanding relationships with the leadership team at Pitt as well as with the numerous individuals who will help shape our program.”

It’s been largely speculated that Capel would be the next coach at Duke. The Blue Devils are led by 71-year-old head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has been at Duke since 1980.

“Duke University and Coach K have had a profound impact on my life,” Capel said. “I have learned so much about myself, first as a player and then as a coach but most importantly as a man during my time in Durham. The values I have learned from Coach K, his family and his teams will continue to have a significant impact on my career as I look to build on a great tradition here at Pitt.”

“Pittsburgh just made an amazing hire to lead its men’s basketball program,” Krzyzewski said in a release. “Having come from a proud basketball family, Jeff Capel is one of the most dynamic coaches in the country. He possesses championship-level experience as both a head and assistant coach, as well as a distance knowledge of the Atlantic Coast Conference that will benefit Pitt immediately.”

Capel is a Fayetteville, North Carolina, native and played at South View High School in Hope Mills, North Carolina. He is the son of Jeff Capel II, who was a head coach at Fayetteville State, North Carolina A&T, Old Dominion, the NBADL’s Fayetteville Patriots and was an assistant for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats and Philadelphia 76ers.

After graduating from high school, Capel matriculated to Duke, where he was a four-year starter at guard. He played 129 career games for the Blue Devils, scoring 1601 points. Duke made it to the Final Four in his freshman year and to the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons.

Capel played briefly in professional basketball, with stops in the CBA and overseas, before catching on as an assistant with his father at Old Dominion. He spend one season at Old Dominion before being hired as an assistant by Mack McCarthy at VCU. McCarthy resigned after the 2001-02 season, and Capel was promoted as the youngest Division I head coach at 27 years old.

The Rams made the NCAA Tournament in Capel’s second season and he had a 79-41 overall record at VCU over four years. In 2007, he replaced the departed Kelvin Sampson as the head coach at Oklahoma.

With the Sooners, Capel signed Blake Griffin and made the NCAA Tournament in both his second and third seasons, going 30-6 in 2008-09. In 2011, it was revealed that assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro broke NCAA rules regarding impermissible benefits provided to players. Because Oklahoma had already been sanctioned by the NCAA for violations committed under Sampson’s watch, the program was put on probation for three years, vacated all wins from the 2009-10 season, and had one quarter of it’s recruiting days taken away.

The combination of declining results, uncertainty over the NCAA violations, and an exodus of five underclassmen that transferred from the program resulted in Capel’s firing in 2011. He then joined the coaching staff at his alma mater, where he’s been for the last seven seasons. He also served as Krzyzewski’s interim head coach on at least two occasions.

Alan Saunders contributed to this story.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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