It's official: Altman inks deal

It's official: Altman inks deal »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Longtime Creighton coach Dana Altman has signed a seven-year deal worth $1.8 million annually to become Oregon's new head basketball coach.

Altman, 51, spent 16 seasons at Creighton, finishing with a 327-176 record. He led the Bluejays to 11 consecutive 20-win seasons before they went 18-16 this past season.

Creighton went to the postseason 13 times in his tenure, including seven NCAA Tournament appearances.

Altman replaces Ernie Kent, who was dismissed after 13 seasons at his alma mater. The Ducks went 16-16 last season.

"It's all about players," Altman said. "If we can attract the right kind of student-athletes, we can build something special."

Altman's appointment was announced Monday at a news conference at Oregon's new Matthew Knight Arena, which is currently under construction and will replace venerable MacArthur Court.

The hiring ends more than a monthlong search during which several high profile names — including Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Minnesota's Tubby Smith — where rumored to be on Oregon's wish list. Missouri coach Mike Anderson said the Ducks approached him, but he turned down the job.

Altman joked about the process.

"You look at my wife, you look at me, I wasn't her first choice either," he said.

Altman is being replaced at Creighton by Iowa State's Greg McDermott.

Altman, who also had coaching stints at Marshall and Kansas State, is considered a strong bench coach who produces up-tempo, defense-oriented teams.

In April 2007, Altman left Creighton to take the Arkansas job but returned to Omaha within 24 hours after having a change of heart.

"This is home. This is where I will finish my coaching career. That's pretty obvious now," Altman said at a news conference after Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen hired him back.

On Monday he said: "If it wasn't hard to leave, I wasn't doing my job for the past 16 years."

Before his flirtation with Arkansas, Altman had strung together nine straight 20-win seasons and taken the Bluejays to the NCAA tournament seven of his 13 years at the school.

His next two teams were 22-11 and 27-8 and went to the NIT. Last season's squad was 18-16 and was relegated to the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

But former Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny, who was in charge of the search for a new coach, said in a statement that Altman is widely praised for his ability.

"As I traveled around the country and talked with literally hundreds of coaches and college basketball insiders, the name that kept coming up as one of the nation's top college basketball coaches was Dana Altman," Kilkenny said. "Virtually all of them also expressed that Altman was as great a human being as he is a basketball coach."

Altman joins a Ducks program that is currently without an athletic director.

Former football coach Mike Bellotti left the AD's office last month to become a college football analyst with ESPN. His departure became controversial after it was made public that he never signed a written contract and was leaving the Ducks with a $2.3 million "golden parachute."