The head men’s basketball coaching position at East Carolina didn’t remain vacant for long.
The Pirates are expected to hire Tennessee associate head coach Michael Schwartz, first reported by Hoist the Colours, then multiple outlets. The hire is pending approval from the Board of Trustees during a meeting on Wednesday.
ECU on Friday parted ways with coach Joe Dooley, who in his second stint with the Pirates, had just finished his fourth season with a 15-15 record on Thursday.
Schwartz has been a hot name during this hiring cycle as he had been brought up in a number of coaching searches nationwide, as teams like Florida and LSU had their sights on the SEC coach. Pirates athletic director Jon Gilbert moved quickly on this hire, with an agreement coming just three days since parting with Dooley.
Schwartz spent the past six seasons on Tennessee’s staff, and is in his third as associate head coach. Schwartz has been lauded for his defensive schemes that made Tennessee one of the better defensive teams in the country during his time on Rick Barnes’ coaching staff.
That defense helped propel the Volunteers to a No. 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament, where they will play No. 14 Longwood on Thursday.
Since Schwartz took over as the Volunteers’ defensive coordinator ahead of the 2017-18 season, Tennessee has gone 92-38.
Last season, Tennessee posted the nation’s fourth-best defensive efficiency rating, per KenPom.com. This year, KenPom has Tennessee at third in adjusted defensive efficiency this season at 86.2 points allowed per 100 possessions. It’s the third top-10 finish in that category in the last five years.
The Vols led the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense in each of the past two seasons, and again in 2018.
It seemed like it was just a matter of time before Schwartz got to run his own team. He appeared in a 2019 article by The Athletic’s Brian Hamilton, who listed the top 25 up-and-coming college basketball coaches.
Hamilton wrote: “At some point, all this success Rick Barnes is having at Tennessee — and the recruiting results indicate it might not slow down — will provide opportunities for the people who helped jumpstart it. Schwartz, 43, has been in charge of a defense that ranked sixth and 42nd nationally over the last two seasons, per KenPom.com’s adjusted efficiency ratings. According to Tennessee, Schwartz was also the primary recruiter for five-star guard Josiah-Jordan James, an impact recruit that suggested the Volunteers’ success wouldn’t be a flash in the pan.”
James was a 5-star prospect and the top recruit out of South Carolina before he came to Tennessee.
Schwartz had previous coaching stops at Texas (1999-2001; 2002-04), Long Beach State (2001-02), Texas-San Antonio (2004-05), Miami (Fla.) (2005-11), Fresno State (2011-15), Tulsa (2015-16) and Tennessee (2016-present).