Oklahoma head basketball coach Lon Kruger retires

By Field Level Media
Mar 22, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lon Kruger reacts after a play against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the first half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger called it a career Thursday after 44 years on the sidelines.

Kruger, who is one of three coaches to take five teams to the NCAA Tournament, finishes with a career record of 674-432 with six teams. He began his coaching career as an assistant at Pittsburg State in Kansas in 1976. Kruger, 68, ends it after 10 seasons in Norman, Okla.

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“It’s been an honor to serve the University of Oklahoma as its head men’s basketball coach over the last 10 years. The people here are certainly amazing and our family is so grateful for the kindness and support expressed by Sooner Nation throughout the past decade,” Kruger said in a statement. “We have such a deep appreciation for the players, coaches and fans. There truly is ‘Only One Oklahoma’ and it’s a great honor to be a Sooner for life.”

In addition to Oklahoma, Kruger took Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV to the NCAA Tournament. Kruger guided Florida (1994) and the Sooners (2016) to the Final Four.

Kruger began his career as a head coach in 1982 at Texas-Rio Grande Valley. He took his alma mater Kansas State to the NCAA Tournament all four years from 1986-90. He led Florida to the regular season title in 1993-94 on his way to the Final Four. He was a two-time SEC Coach of the Year.

He led Illinois to the regular season title in 1997-98, making the NCAA Tournament three out of the four years in Champaign. He led UNLV to two conference tournament titles and four NCAA Tournament bids in his seven years there. He’s taken the Sooners to seven NCAA Tournaments since being hired in 2011.

Kruger had his greatest success at UNLV, finishing with a .694 winning percentage in 232 games.

Kruger also coached two-plus seasons in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks, going 69-122 before getting fired in 2003.

Kruger plans to move back to Las Vegas to be close to his son, Kevin, who was hired this week as the new head coach of the Runnin’ Rebels.

–Field Level Media