Stanford University first-year athletic director Bernard Muir has big plans for the Cardinal men’s basketball program — plans that may not include head coach Johnny Dawkins after next season.
The Cardinal has received an NIT bid for the past two seasons while missing the NCAA tournament for five straight years. Coach Dawkins has been retained for his sixth season with Stanford, but anything short of the big dance will be considered as grounds for firing according to his new boss.
Dawkins led the Cardinal to an 18-14 record overall while the school finished in a four-way tie for sixth place in the Pac-12. Stanford was eliminated in the first round of the conference tournament by Arizona State in overtime.
Stanford is attempting to win its second-straight NIT and has advanced after a narrow 58-57 victory over Stephen F. Austin. The Cardinal faces top-seeded Alabama in the second round on March 23.
Luckily for Dawkins, junior All-Pac-12 forward Dwight Powell will be returning to the rotation for the 2013-14 season after scoring in double figures in every conference game this season. Powell was voted the conference’s most improved player this season, and his return positions Stanford as one of the top contenders for the next Pac-12 title.
There’s no question the Cardinal has the talent necessary to once again be relevant in the Pac-12, but Dawkins’ strength as the leader of the program is less obvious. Dawkins has an overall record of 93-73 as head coach which somewhat masks the difficulties Stanford has had during his tenure. Stanford hasn’t received a bid to the NCAA tournament in five years, making the Dawkins era the Cardinal’s worst since 1989.
Stanford most certainly has the potential to contend for a Pac-12 title next season, and Dawkins is counting on that potential translating into a contract extension.
John Engel is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports, covering the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences. John works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in addition to Rant Sports. Follow: @engelsportsguy.