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UMass hires Matt McCall as men’s basketball coach 03.29.17 at 6:06 pm ET
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UMass has its new basketball coach. (Jim Brown/USA Today Sports)

UMass has its new basketball coach. (Jim Brown/USA Today Sports)

After Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey spurned Massachusetts less than a week ago and had a change of heart just 30 minutes before his introductory press conference, UMass has agreed to terms with Chattanooga head coach Matt McCall, the school announced Wednesday night.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in the press release. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men. Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

McCall spent two seasons as head coach of the Mocs, taking over for Will Wade after he left to coach Virginia Commonwealth. McCall led Chattanooga to an NCAA tournament appearance in his first season along with winning the Southern Conference regular season and conference championship in 2015-16. The 35-year-old compiled a 48-18 (.727 winning percentage) record in his time with Chattanooga, and was named SoCon coach of the year in his first season.

“My family and I always said it would take something extremely special to move us away from Chattanooga and that’s what we have here at UMass,” McCall said in the release. “The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference, but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

After graduating from Florida in 2006, McCall was named the director of basketball operations with the team, a position he held for two seasons before being hired as an assistant coach with Florida Atlantic. He spent three seasons with the Owls before returning to his alma mater and serving as an assistant coach under Billy Donovan for four seasons with the Gators.

McCall will take over for Kellogg after the Springfield, Mass. native spent nine seasons in Amherst, posting a 155-137 record (.531 winning percentage) with one trip to the NCAA tournament in 2013. The Minutemen lost 15 of its final 20 games this season after starting the year 10-3 with a nationally-rated recruiting class.

Boston Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry reportedly emerged as a serious contender to become the Minutemen head coach before and after the team’s debacle with Kelsey. UMass officials hosted Shrewsberry for two interviews with the team before confirming to the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy he was out of the mix to replace Kellogg.

Kellogg was fired on March 9 following UMass’ second round exit in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Pat Kelsey backs out last minute, will not be UMass basketball head coach 03.23.17 at 6:48 pm ET
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Pat Kelsey is the new basketball coach at UMass. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

Pat Kelsey will not take the UMass coaching job after all. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team was set to usher in its next head basketball coach Thursday afternoon at the John Francis Kennedy Champions Center after the team announced Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey would be replacing former coach Derek Kellogg Tuesday.

As media and fans gathered in the Champions Center, it was then relayed by a UMass spokesperson that the press conference had been cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances.” Moments later ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Kelsey had a change of heart and in a most bizarre twist, would not be the team’s next coach.

”For personal reasons, I have asked the University of Massachusetts to allow me to be released from the offer I accepted to be the head men’s basketball coach,” Kelsey said in a statement the team released. “To be clear, this decision is entirely personal and in no way an assessment of the commitment UMass made to me personally or to the resources available at UMass to have a nationally-recognized program. I apologize to Chancellor Subbaswamy, Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford, members of the basketball program and the UMass community who embraced my appointment this week and made me feel welcome since arriving on campus yesterday.”

Kelsey had been on campus in Amherst the previous two days taking photos and meeting with the current Minutemen basketball team and other athletic coaches at the university, including Thursday in anticipation for the afternoon presser. He then called Bamford at 3:25, just a half hour prior to his scheduled press conference, to inform him of his request to be released from the university.

“After speaking with Pat about his decision, I honored his request and we are now working through how this impacts our executed Memorandum of Understanding,” Bamford said. “In my conversation with Pat, he made it clear that his reasons were very personal and upon his request, I will honor our confidential conversation. Pat stressed that his decision was not based on the University of Massachusetts or our basketball program. Again, his reasons were personal in nature. I know that the unforeseen circumstances surrounding his decision were not in our control. At this time, we will resume our search for the next leader of our program. I am confident that we will hire a remarkable coach who will return our program to national prominence.”

The search for UMass’ next coach now resumes, with rumored candidates Micah Shrewsberry and Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley serious contenders for the position.

As for Kelsey, Bamford said it was his indication in their meeting that he would be heading back Winthrop, however he could not confirm.

“This was on me,” Bamford told the media early Thursday evening. “As the leader of this organization, this is on me. I take this personally. Finding our next head coach is personal to me because I owe it to the department and our student-athletes to find somebody great.”

“This is a great job and this is a great university,” he added. “We are a top public research university. This is a wonderful athletic department and this is an unbelievable community. We’re going to go find somebody who wants to come here and return us to prominence. There’s no doubt in my mind. This is a road bump for us.”

UMass hires Pat Kelsey as new basketball coach 03.21.17 at 6:50 pm ET
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Pat Kelsey is the new basketball coach at UMass. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

Pat Kelsey is the new basketball coach at UMass. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

Massachusetts Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford got his man.

After firing UMass men’s head basketball coach Derek Kellogg following the Minutemen’s (15-18, 4-14 Atlantic 10) second-round exit in the A-10 tournament, UMass hired Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey to become the school’s 22nd head basketball coach Tuesday afternoon.

“I am thrilled to welcome Pat Kelsey and his family to the University of Massachusetts,” Bamford said in the team’s press release. “Pat has been an important piece of some highly-successful programs throughout his career, including the last five years leading the basketball program at Winthrop University. Coach Kelsey has a detailed plan for every phase of our program and a passionate work ethic providing fuel to reach our goals of building a championship-caliber program.”

Kelsey spent the previous five years at the helm of the Eagles, compiling a 102-59 record (.634 winning percentage). Winthrop was the 2016-17 Big South regular season and conference tournament champions with a 26-7 record (15-3 in conference) before losing to Butler in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Kelsey’s lone trip to the big dance.

The Eagles won the Big South regular season championship twice in Kelsey’s tenure. He spent two seasons as an associate coach of his alma mater Xavier and eight years as an assistant at Wake Forest before becoming the Winthrop coach.

“Lisa and I are thrilled to be joining the UMass family and the Amherst community,” Kelsey said in the release. “UMass is a national college basketball brand with a proud, powerful tradition. As a player in the A-10, I saw first hand what the potential is there. I look forward to the challenge of making UMass a major factor on the national level once again.”

The news broke after rumors were swirling about a potential job for Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry. The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported early Tuesday morning Shrewsberry emerged as a “serious” contender to become the Minutmen’s next head coach after having met with school officials earlier this month, with a second interview on the docket.

The Boston Herald’s Rich Thompson reported early Tuesday afternoon via Steve Bulpett’s Twitter account that Shrewsberry was in fact out of the running to be the team’s next head coach, and was no longer on Bamford’s short list before ESPN’s Jeff Goodman initially reported the team hired Kelsey Tuesday afternoon.

Kelsey will take over for Kellogg after the Springfield, Mass. native spent nine seasons in Amherst, posting a 155-137 record (.531 winning percentage) with one trip to the NCAA tournament in 2013. The Minutemen lost 15 of its final 20 games this season after starting the year 10-3 with a nationally-rated recruiting class.

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