Legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will retire following the upcoming 2021-22 college basketball season. Krzyzewski, who turned 74 in February and is famously known as “Coach K,” has led Duke to five NCAA Tournament championships, 12 Final Four appearances and 27 combined ACC titles in tournament and regular-season competition since taking over the program ahead of the 1980-81 season.
In his 46-year coaching career, Krzyzewski has won 1,170 games, the most in men’s college basketball history.
“My family and I view today as a celebration,” said Krzyzewski in a statement released by Duke. “Our time at both West Point and Duke has been beyond amazing and we are thankful and honored to have led two college programs at world-class institutions for more than four decades. That, coupled with 11 unforgettable years as the United States National Team coach, has resulted in a remarkable journey. Certainly, I have been blessed to coach some of the finest young men and greatest players in basketball history as a direct result of these unique opportunities. For us, there is no greater joy than being part of our players’ respective endeavors through basketball, and more importantly, their lives off the court. Our family is eternally grateful to everyone who contributed to our career for the past 46 years. So, to the countless members of our extended family, thank you very much.”
A three-time Naismith College Coach of the Year and five-time ACC Coach of the Year, Krzyzewski has amassed a 1,097-302 (.784) career record over 41 years at Duke with 25-plus wins in 22 of the last 24 seasons dating back to 1997-98. His five national championships are bested only by UCLA’s John Wooden (10), while his 1,097 wins at Duke are the most for a coach at a single program.
He led the Blue Devils to 24 straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1996 to 2019 before missing the Big Dance this season as Duke struggled to a 13-11 (9-9 ACC) record. Duke won its first two games in the 2020 ACC Tournament but was forced to withdraw from the event after a positive COVID-19 test within the program’s Tier 1 personnel.
Duke assistant and former player Jon Scheyer will succeed Coach K as Duke’s 20th head coach beginning in the 2022-23 season. He played for the Blue Devils from 2006-10 and served as captain of the 2010 national championship team. Scheyer joined Krzyzewski’s staff eight years ago and has been the program’s associate head coach since 2018.
Krzyzewski also coached the U.S. Men’s National Team to three Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012, 2016) and two FIBA World Cups (2010, 2014). He went 24-0 in the Olympics and 88-1 overall as coach of the national team. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach on the gold medal-winning Dream Team in 1992.
Before joining Duke, Krzyzewski played point guard for Army under coach Bob Knight from 1966-69, serving as captain in his final season. He graduated from West Point and served as an officer in the United States Army for six years before starting his coaching career. Krzyzewski worked as an assistant under Knight at Indiana for one season before taking over as head coach at Army in 1975. He led the then-Cadets to a 73-59 (.553) record over five seasons with an NIT birth and first-round exit in 1978.
After Bill Foster left Duke for South Carolina following three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Krzyzewski was hired to lead the Blue Devils. It started rough with a 28-47 record, one NIT berth and two campaigns without postseason competition in the first three years. Many Duke boosters called for his ouster, but Krzyzewski’s job was saved by then-athletic director Tom Butters.
Coach K soon turned Duke around, reaching his first Final Four within three years of that decision as part of stretch of 11 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including two national titles (1991-92), three runner-up finishes and seven total Final Four berths.
Coach K was forced to vacate the bench during the 1994-95 season after he had surgery to repair a ruptured disk in his back with Duke ultimately failing to make the NCAA Tournament after assistant Pete Gaudet took over for the remainder of the season. However, the Blue Devils were back in the Big Dance the following year and set off his string of 24 straight appearances, which included three more national titles (2001, 2010, 2015).
Duke’s had 71 players drafted under Krzyzewski, including three No. 1 overall picks in Zion Williamson (2019), Kyrie Irving (2011) and Elton Brand (1999). A total of 23 Duke players have been top 10 picks in the NBA Draft during Krzyzewski’s Duke tenure, and his 28 NBA Lottery picks are the most in history. Only Kentucky began the 2020-21 NBA season with more former players on NBA rosters (32) than Duke (29). The Wildcats and Blue Devils were the only college programs with more than 20 former players on opening day rosters this season.
The news of his impending retirement comes two months after legendary North Carolina coach Roy Williams, 70, announced he was stepping down following 48 years in coaching. The departures of Williams and Krzyzewski from college basketball will leave the sport without two of its pillars over the last half-century.