Story from Indy Star reporter Zach Osterman:
After four years spent struggling to break into the top half of the Big Ten, IU has fired men’s basketball coach Archie Miller.
Miller finishes his IU career with a 67-58 record. He went 33-44 in Big Ten play.
“As the Director of Athletics, I wanted to wait until the conclusion of the season before evaluating the leadership of our men’s basketball program,” IU AD Scott Dolson said in a news release announcing Miller’s firing. “In the days following the completion of our season in the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, I have spent a great deal of time evaluating our recruiting, student-athlete development, leadership development, and playing philosophy and strategy. That review, combined with the on-court results, ultimately led me to conclude that a change in leadership of our program is warranted at this time. I shared my assessment with Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, and he accepted my recommendation.”
Miller’s contract buyout was $10.3 million. It’s the 15th-richest in the country, per USA TODAY’s coaches salary database. According to the terms of his contract, signed upon his hiring in 2017, Archie Miller would be owed 100% of remaining base, deferred and outside, marketing and promotional income, were he to be terminated without cause before March 31, 2022.
“Given the university’s very tight financial situation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, private philanthropic funding has been obtained for all transition costs and obligations related to the change in leadership,” Dolson said in the release. “We worked to secure the necessary private support following my recommendation to President McRobbie, ensuring that there would be no charges to the university budget.”
One of the brightest young coaches in the country when he was hired from Dayton, Miller brought big expectations and plenty of hope to Bloomington. He promised a hard-nosed defensive style, a team that attacked relentlessly in transition and a program defined by toughness. And he recruited well, particularly in-state, where he landed multiple McDonald’s All Americans and signed three-consecutive IndyStar Mr. Basketball winners, a first in program history.
But that success too often did not translate to the floor. Miller’s teams struggled badly with consistency, finishing .500 in Big Ten play just once in Miller’s four seasons in charge, and never higher than a tie for sixth. The Hoosiers achieved that in Miller’s first season.
Not once in Miller’s past two seasons in charge did Indiana win more than two games consecutively in league play.
Defensive numbers fluctuated wildly, as did performances. At times in Miller’s tenure, the Hoosiers ranked among the best defensive teams in the country. But they could not sustain success at that end of the floor. Only once, in Miller’s first season in charge in 2017-18, did Indiana finish in the top half of the Big Ten in adjusted defensive efficiency in conference play.
And, despite his good recruiting work, Miller was never able to build a team that could score the ball as efficiently or effectively as the modern game requires. Too often, the Hoosiers struggled with ball movement, shooting, turnovers, court spacing or some combination of the above. Good performances rarely felt built upon, momentum never sustained.
That lack of consistency proved an unfortunate hallmark of Miller’s IU tenure. Good performances were too often followed by poor ones. Steps forward accompanied by steps back.
Miller finished well below .500 in games played following a ranked win. The Hoosiers did not win more than two Big Ten games consecutively across his last two seasons.
The baseline was high enough to stave off disaster (at least until the end of this season). But the ceiling never raised to anything near Indiana’s expectations. After a six-game skid bound this season to its premature end, Miller’s time was up.
“Indiana Basketball has a long, rich history of success that dates back generations,” Dolson said. “Our five national championships and 22 Big Ten titles make us one of the most accomplished programs in college basketball history. I have high expectations for our program, and we have not competed at a level within the conference or nationally that I believe we should.
“While I will not establish a formal search committee, I will consult within the University and with trusted experts in the state and around the country as I seek out and recruit a new coach. The work to find the next leader of Indiana Basketball will begin immediately, and I will seek a chief executive that I can partner with to reestablish the brand and national presence of Indiana Basketball.”