Michigan’s Stan Heath would love to coach Detroit

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Stan Heath

Stan Heath has thrown his name into the hat, saying he would love nothing more than to be the next head men’s basketball coach at Detroit.

The Titans’ job became available earlier this month after Ray McCallum was fired following a 16-15 record. McCallum was 44-52 the last three seasons following consecutive 20-win seasons and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012.

Heath, 51, who is from Detroit and played at Detroit Catholic Central and Eastern Michigan, wants to come home. Currently an assistant at Boston College, Heath believes he has what it takes to return the Titans to greatness.

Heath was successful at his previous three stops as head coach, guiding Kent State to an Elite Eight spot with Antonio Gates as its star player in 2002, Arkansas to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2006 and 2007, and South Florida to its best season in school history, finishing 22-14 while competing in the Big East in 2012, advancing to the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.

Heath said he sent his resume and other pertinent information to Detroit’s administrators but hasn’t yet heard back.

“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished as a head coach and there’s still a lot for me to accomplish,” Heath told The Detroit News. “Michigan is home for me. I have some great memories of Michigan and I’d love to go back and be a head coach there. Detroit’s had some glory days, some terrific coaches in the past. It’s not an easy place for just any coach, but it certainly is for a guy who has the right understanding coming in.

“I have a lot of in-roads, I’m well-plugged in, already knowing the community leaders, the high school and AAU coaches to get the ball rolling right away. You have to bring in character guys with great work ethic and have a great staff too.”

The Titans have had some quality head coaches. Dick Vitale was 79-29 in his four years, guiding them to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1977, with the next NCAA spot coming 21 years later by Perry Watson, who was 258-185 in 15 years, highlighted by 1998 and 1999 NCAA appearances.

Heath, an all-state guard at Detroit Catholic Central, played at Eastern Michigan before earning his master’s at Wayne State. He was an assistant at every level in Michigan – Albion College (Division III), Hillsdale College and Wayne State (Division II) and Michigan State (1996-2001) before taking his first head coaching job at Kent State, where he replaced Gary Waters, taking the Golden Flashes to the Elite Eight in his first year.

“I never took the easy job, aside from what I inherited from Gary at Kent State, when I then added Antonio Gates,” said Heath. “It took a little bit more time adjusting to the situation at Arkansas, then for a minute when I went to South Florida, where I had to build it up from the ground floor.”

Heath took over a 14-15 program at Arkansas and went 9-19 and 12-16 during his first two years before improving to 18-12 in year three, then to the consecutive NCAA tourney appearances in 2006 (22-10) and 2007 (21-14).

At South Florida, Heath took over a program that had suffered through four consecutive losing seasons, then went 12-19 and 9-22 in his first two seasons before a 20-13 record in year three, then the school’s best record in history two years later.

Heath was fired at South Florida after the 2014 season when it finished 12-20, losing seven games by a combined 21 points. He had four years remaining on a contract extension signed after the 2012 season. He is in his second year as an assistant at Boston College.

Messages left by The Detroit News for Detroit athletic director Robert C. Vowels about the coaching search were not immediately returned.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported that Detroit will make a decision on a new coach this week.

Michigan’s Bacari Alexander, Michigan State’s Dwayne Stephens both in mix,” Goodman wrote on Twitter.

Both Alexander and Stephens are without head coaching experience. Alexander recently finished his sixth season as an assistant at Michigan. Alexander played for the Titans when they made consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 1998 and 1999. He was an assistant at Detroit from 2001-07.

Stephens played for the Spartans from 1989-93 and has been an assistant or associate head coach under Tom Izzo the last 13 years.