The UMKC basketball makeover continued on Tuesday with the announcement of Kareem Richardson as the Kangaroos’ new head coach.
Richardson, a Louisville assistant, will join UMKC after the top-seeded Cardinals’ NCAA Tournament run ends.
UMKC will join the Western Athletic Conference and move its home games from Swinney Recreation Center on campus to Municipal Auditorium next season. And now the Kangaroos have a replacement for Matt Brown, who was fired two weeks ago.
“It was a quick and intense process,” UMKC athletic director Tim Hall said. “We wanted to move rapidly and identify somebody we felt embodied everything we were looking for. Kareem had all the attributes.”
Richardson is returning to Kansas City. He spent one season on the UMKC staff, serving as the top assistant for Brown’s first team in 2007-08.
Hall said among the attributes Richardson brings to the job is a strong connection with Midwest high school and AAU coaches based on his background.
After coaching at UMKC, Richardson went to Drake. He also spent one year each at Xavier and Louisville.
Before his year in Kansas City, Richardson was an assistant at Evansville, Wright State, Indiana State and Indianapolis.
“I’ve been in the business for 16 years and the majority of my connections are in the Midwest,” Richardson said. “I hope to hit the ground running.”
UMKC chancellor Leo Morton said in a statement that UMKC wanted to make a splash hire.
“Our goal is to win the attention and the hearts of Kansas City sports fans,” Morton said. “Kansas City is the best college basketball town in the country, and UMKC is Kansas City’s top university.”
Richardson’s contract will be for five years at $250,000 annually.
“I’m in a special situation at Louisville with Coach (Rick) Pitino, and it had to take a special situation for me to leave,” Richardson said. “When I was there I learned Kansas City was a basketball town, a sports town.”
Brown was fired after a season in which UMKC finished 8-24 and lost in the quarterfinals of the Summit League tournament. The roster includes two seniors, forward Thomas Staton, the second-leading scorer who averaged 9.9 points per game, and center Brad Reid, who averaged 3.3 points and 3.5 rebounds.
There were seven juniors on this season’s team, including scoring leader Estan Tyler, who averaged 11.4 points.
The Kangaroos will open play this fall in the WAC, joining a conference that welcomes several new members: Utah Valley, Texas-Pan American, Grand Canyon, Chicago State and Bakersfield. Also in the league will be Seattle and New Mexico State.
The WAC basketball tournament could come to Kansas City at some point, although probably not next year.
“It’s a fresh start in a new league,” Richardson said, “we get back to Municipal, and we should have a style of play that people in the community should be excited about.”