Campus Corner

Missouri loses another assistant basketball coach

Updated: 2012-07-21T21:54:48Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

Yet another assistant coach has chosen to leave Frank Haith’s staff at Missouri.

Missouri announced that Ryan Miller – who was hired away from New Mexico a few months ago – has left to take an associate head coaching position under Auburn coach Tony Barbee. That represents a significant pay raise and a step up from Miller's current position at Missouri, where Tim Fuller currently serves as the associate head coach.

“It was a difficult decision because I really enjoyed working at Missouri and I can’t think of a better head coach to work for than Coach Haith," Miller said in a statement. "I appreciate how supportive he was of me during this process and the culture he has created here is among the best in college basketball.

“I do want to say how much I appreciated my short time in Columbia and I know why my friends and colleagues spoke so highly of Frank and Mizzou. This is such a special place to so many people and my experience with our student-athletes, the University and the city will stay with me forever.”

Miller is the third assistant to leave Haith’s staff this offseason. Two assistants from last year’s 30-5 team – Isaac Chew and Ernie Nestor – departed for Illinois and Navy, respectively. In their place, Haith hired Miller and former Virginia coach Dave Leitao, who was brought aboard last month.

Miller said in a text message to The Star that his departure had nothing to do with the ongoing NCAA inquiry at the University of Miami, where Haith used to coach.

"It has zero to do with the investigation," Miller said. "It has zero to do with the work environment or the university."

Still, the timing of Miller's departure isn't great for Haith. July is a crucial recruiting time, and Haith spoke often about the need to recruit the Memphis area, which was thought to be a strength of Miller's. He spent several years as an assistant at Memphis under John Calipari and his younger brother, Miami Heat forward Mike Miller, played for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and founded one of the region's top AAU teams, M33M Elite. Miller also coached with Barbee at Memphis.

“I know it was a difficult decision for Ryan, but when you step back and look at the opportunities it can create for him going forward it’s understandable," Haith said in a statement. "It’s a great opportunity personally, professionally and financially, and to go from our third assistant to associate head coach and work for a former colleague and friend, it’s a major career move.

“As for us we have a strong staff foundation in place with Tim (Fuller) and Dave (Leitao). I feel like they are the top two assistant coaches in college basketball and we are going to continue to hire talented individuals in that mold, great on-court teachers and great recruiters with established relationships.”

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

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