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Men’s Basketball parts ways with head coach Bill Courtney

Today, Cornell University announced they will not renew the contract of head coach Bill Courtney. Athletic Director Andy Noel said, via Cornell Athletics website, that “I appreciate Coach Courtney’s diligent efforts and his dedication to our student-athletes over the past six years.” Although Noel was diplomatic — it is clear why coach Courtney was relieved of his duties–he simply did not win enough games.

Courtney took over the Cornell men’s program at an all-time peak, coming off a 2009-10 season that culminated in a #17 ranking nationally and a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament that included wins over Temple and Wisconsin. That squad came close to toppling Kansas in Phog Allen Field house during the regular season. The 2010 season ended at the hands of a loaded Kentucky team that featured future NBA stars John Wall and Demarcus Cousins.

After previous head coach Steve Donahue left, optimism was high. Cornell had won the Ivy League three straight years and it was said their second team could’ve won the Ivy League in 2010. Yet Cornell would not experience success anywhere near Donahue’s tenure under Courtney. The 2010 season is still the last winning season for Cornell basketball.

Courtney was thought of as a great recruiter and a player’s coach, and managed to get prized recruit Shonn Miller to come to Ithaca. Yet, success never materialized. Courtney’s squads went 60-113 unde, and they were a dismal 27-57 in Ivy League conference play. The nadir was a 2-26 team in 2013-14 that managed only one win over a Division I school. The season was the subject of a New York Times piece entitled “A Cinderella Is Back to Waiting for a Happy Ending,” chronicling how far the program had fallen.

And now, the landscape couldn’t be more different from five years ago. Cornell is a mediocre Ivy League team coming off a 10-18 season (3-11 in the conference), Miller is a graduate student and key component of a tournament-bound University of Connecticut squad, and Donahue is back in the Ivy League coaching Penn after an unsuccessful tenure at Boston College.


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