Eastern Michigan's Rob Murphy 'knows where he's at' entering final year of contract

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Rob Murphy will return for a 10th season as head men's basketball coach at Eastern Michigan.

An 11th season could be in serious doubt, however.

Rob Murphy

"Rob and I have had really good discussions, and with everything that's gone on across the country, it works out to have him come back for his 10th year," said Scott Wetherbee, athletic director at Eastern. "We only lost one senior. I feel good about giving him that chance, with this group, to see if can't kind of rebound. We were competitive in so many games, we just couldn't find a way to get over the hump.

"Rob knows where he's at, he knows 10 years is a long time. If you haven't won in 10 years, maybe you need to do something else."

Murphy, 46, has had one winning season in his last four. The Eagles were 16-16 this past season, including 6-12 in the Mid-American Conference.

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In nine years at Eastern, Murphy has compiled a record of 160-143, with no NCAA Tournament appearances, and three postseason appearances (two CIT, one CBI).

Eastern last made the NCAA Tournament in 1998. Murphy took over in 2011; in his tenure, rival Western Michigan has made the NCAAs once, and Central Michigan hasn't made the NCAAs.

The Eagles, in recent years, have seemingly stockpiled superior talent, much of it via the transfer route, but it hasn't led to significant on-court success. Eastern's last winning season was 2017-18, when it was 22-13 overall, and 11-7 in the MAC.

This year's roster featured eight transfers, and many will become eligible next season.

Murphy has notched three 20-win seasons, the latest triggering a clause that extended his contract by one year under an extension signed in 2018. He now will be entering the final year of his contract.

Before coming to Eastern, Murphy spent seven seasons on staff at Syracuse and two at Kent State. He was head coach at Detroit Crockett from 1998-2002 and an assistant at Detroit Central from 1996-98. A Detroit native, he played football and basketball at Mumford, earning all-state in football.

Murphy, who makes $350,000 in base pay, didn't respond to a message from The News on Friday.

One other state MAC school is looking for a new coach, with Western Michigan moving on from Steve Hawkins after 17 seasons. Saddi Washington, the preferred No. 1 choice and a current Michigan assistant who starred for the Broncos as a player, turned down the job, and the search has come to a serious slowdown amid all the coronavirus complications.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984