The rumor mill had been active throughout the season and after some recent telling post-game comments by Kevin Willard, and on Monday it became officially official.
Seton Hall officially announced Willard has stepped down, and Maryland has its welcome wagon ready for its new coach.
“Growing up and coaching in the region, I have always admired Maryland basketball,” Willard said in a statement. “Being named head coach of one of the nation’s premier basketball programs is a tremendous honor. Thank you to President (Darryll)Pines and for trusting me to energize this proud program as we look to galvanize our passionate fanbase with a gritty, hard-working style of basketball.
“Having coached against Maryland several times and at Xfinity Center, I know how Terp fans feel about this team. I embrace the high expectations. Skill development and a dedication to academic success will be cornerstones of our program and I can promise Terp Nation we will work to make them proud of this basketball team as we build winners on the court and in the classroom.”
Willard went 225-161 over his 12 years at Seton Hall, giving him the second-most all-time wins in program history. He surpassed P.J. Carlesimo, who had 212 wins in 12 seasons, earlier this season. He guided the Pirates to seven 20-win seasons, five NCAA Tournament appearances, a Big East Tournament title in 2016 and a share of the Big East regular season title in 2020.
He went 1-5 in NCAA Tournament games, but got Seton Hall back into the Big Dance frequently in recent years, especially after Seton Hall had only three NCAA Tournament appearances from 1995-2010.
“I’d like to think Kevin for an incredible 12 years of servant leadership to our student-athletes and our university,” Seton Hall president Dr. Joseph Nyre said in a statement. “Kevin did yeoman’s work in ensuring that our student athletes were ready not only to compete for success on the court, but also ready to compete for success in the classroom, in the community and in life moving forward. With his leadership, Seton Hall men’s basketball transformed into one of the best programs in the country. We wish Kevin and his family all the best as they start a new chapter.”
Willard replaces Mark Turgeon, who was fired in December after a 5-3 start and replaced by interim coach Danny Manning.
Turgeon went 226-116 over his 11 years at Maryland. The Terrapins made five NCAA Tournament appearances, won a Big 10 regular season title in the COVID-impacted 2020 season. Of the five trips to the Big Dance, only one resulted in a second weekend appearance, when Maryland made the Sweet 16 in 2016.
The move paves the way for former Seton Hall player and assistant coach Shaheen Holloway, the Saint Peter’s head coach, as the frontrunner for the job, which Willard made more than obvious following his team’s 69-42 opening round loss to TCU.
“When I get home, I’ll talk to my agent and discuss things with my agent,” Willard said after the game. “I’ll be honest with you. If I’m not here next year, I’d love, if Shaheen Holloway is here. That would be the happiest thing to happen to me.”