Bill Courtney, known for his "warp speed" play style, will not return to the Red next season.

Cameron Pollack | Sun Photography Editor

Bill Courtney, known for his "warp speed" play style, will not return to the Red next season.

March 15, 2016

Cornell Declines to Renew Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Courtney’s Contract

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Cornell did not renew basketball head coach Bill Courtney’s contract, the athletic department announced on Monday.

Courtney coached the Red for six years, finishing with 60 wins and 113 losses including a 27-57 in-conference record. Most recently, Cornell finished with a 10-18 record this past season, with an Ivy League mark of 3-11, last in the conference.

“I appreciate Coach Courtney’s diligent efforts and his dedication to our student-athletes over the past six years,” athletic director Andy Noel said in a statement. “He is a first-class individual and I wish him success in his future endeavors.”

After former head coach Steve Donahue departed the Red following three straight Ivy League titles including the 2009-10 famed run to the Sweet Sixteen, Cornell brought in Courtney, known for his up-tempo style defensively and offensively. Courtney previously served as an assistant at a number of schools, including George Mason, Providence, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

“It’s very disappointing to me and my family,” Courtney said. “But at the same time I’m very thankful that Andy Noel gave me the opportunity to be the head coach at such an incredible institution. I will always be thankful for that. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way any of us would have wanted it to.”

Courtney’s teams at Cornell struggled to perform at the same level as Donahue’s before him. The team finished fifth in Courtney’s first two years, including a 7-7 Ivy record in 2011-12 which would prove to be his best finish in the league in his career. After finishing sixth in 2012-13, Courtney and the Red struggled through injuries in the next year, sputtering to a 2-26 overall record.

A year ago, the Red placed fifth in the league with a record of 13-17. This season, Cornell tied for seventh place in the conference.

“I’ve been coaching for 20 years and whenever you’re not doing well, you’re always worrying about [being fired],” Courtney said, “You never know for sure what’s going to happen, but you always have a little bit of concern you may be in trouble. But until it happens, you never expect it.”

The move follows the announcement of former Cornell basketball freshman Xaiver Eaglin’s arrest for rape. Courtney denied that the ongoing trial played a role in the decision. Cornell Sports Information Director Jeremy Hartigan confirmed that the arrest wasn’t a factor.

“It’s all basketball, it doesn’t have to do anything with Xavier,” Courtney said.

Individual players garnered awards under Courtney. Most recently, freshman guard Matt Morgan was placed on the all-Ivy second team. One of Courtney’s top recruits, Shonn Miller ’15 earned two first team all-Ivy selections and Rookie of the Year. Miller was forced to transfer following his graduation and won a conference title with UConn this past season.

“We turned out a lot of good kids, kids that will do a lot of positive things,” Courtney said. “That’s what we’re in this for.” The Cornell athletic department announced that a national search to find a new coach will begin immediately.

  • M. Allen

    One down, more to go. Starting with Schafer. Seriously — how many ‘re-tooling’ years should he get? His approach to building a team is to find the biggest kids he can find (its not a hockey team, its a football team on skates), hope they can skate (a little), and pray like heck his goal tending holds up.

  • JR

    Biggest win of the season for Cornell. Good way to finish strong.

  • Douglas E. Milton, Sr.

    I was fortunate to attend a couple of games of the Cornell Men’s Basketball and to find out that Coach Courtney has been let go, it is a very unsettling feeling. I have known Coach Courtney and the Courtney Family for only a short while and consider Coach Courtney a very intelligent, knowledgeable, and competent coach and the material that he has had to work with has a lot to be desired. I do understand the numbers and it does reflect some negativity, however, when you do the best with what you have and the accomplishments that you work for are not attained… So the story goes… I am confident, that Coach Courtney will find a better place to show is full potential as a Coach in a different athletic setting and I look forward to hearing great things from Coach Courtney. Will much love and respect, will miss you… D.E. Milton, Sr.*

  • Jim Woodside, ’73

    Once again, Cornell athletics, under Andy Noel, seems to be too late in making the obvious move to improve. This same decision last year could have possibly brought back Steve Donahue after letting him go to experiment with Boston College; but no, he stayed with Courtney and lost Donahue to Penn… probably be a long time before Cornell makes the Ivy Tournament in basketball. It seems that since Bob Kane’s retirement in 1976, Cornell Athletics, except for wrestling, the Moran-Tambroni-Deluca arc in lacrosse and Donahue’s era of basketball, is apologetic for consistently winning and has settled for mediocrity. Maybe we need to take a serious look at the athletic administration first, then the rest of the department.