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Coach K: Changes in Sport Not a Retirement Factor

Paul Steinbach

Duke University men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who announced plans to retire at the end of this season earlier this week, said at a press conference Thursday that he is retiring to spend more time with his family, not because he fears change in a sport with a record number of transfers and the upcoming name, image and likeness rules.

"You might ask, 'Why are you doing this right now?' " Kzryzewski said, as reported by ESPN. "Look, this is not about health. Mickie and I, whether we look it or not — she does — whether I look healthy ... I am. It's not about COVID or saying, 'Boy, that year was so bad.' It's not about that. It's certainly not about what's going on with college basketball. 'Boy, the game is changing.' All right. I've been in it for 46 years. You think the game has never changed?"

He later added: "Those aren't the reasons. ... The reason we're doing this is because Mickie and I have decided the journey is going to be over in a year. And we're going to go after it as hard as we possibly can."

The 74-year-old Krzyzewski, who has led Duke to 12 Final Four appearances and five national titles, emphasized his commitment to finishing strong in the upcoming season.

Krzyzewski owns a record 1,170 Division I wins, but after his first three years at Duke, he had only amassed a 38-47 record. Former Duke athletic director Tom Butters, however, continued to support him.

"The guy who had the most belief in me was Tom Butters," Krzyzewski said. "He really believed in me. And he believed in me multiple times. And he gave me this opportunity. After three years, most people wanted that opportunity to go to someone else. I guess that's a nice way of saying they wanted to get rid of me. But not the guy who believed in me."

According to ESPN, Krzyzewski said he believes in Jon Scheyer's ability to lead Duke going forward following the 2021-22 season. After Scheyer helped Duke win the 2010 national title as a player, he had a brief professional career before he returned to Duke as an assistant in 2014. Krzyzewski thought it was "fair" to announce his decision and the transition to Scheyer before the start of recruiting season. He said he'll remain a staple within the Duke community but will look to use his additional time to attend his grandchildren's activities.

Although the succession plan has been solidified at Duke, Krzyzewski reiterated that he's not done yet, with a top-25 team, including projected lottery pick Paolo Banchero, entering the new season.

"A message to our students: Come back in August," he said. "We're going to be ready, you be ready, and we'll see what happens. We'll see what the hell happens."

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