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Central Michigan parts ways with Keno Davis after nine seasons

Davis, the Chippewas’ head man since 2012, finishes his tenure one game below .500 after abysmal 2020-21 finish.

Syndication: LafayetteIN Nikos Frazier | Journal & Courier, Lafayette Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Central Michigan declared their intention to start afresh on the Monday after Easter, announcing the university’s intention to let go of men’s basketball coach Keno Davis via press statement early this morning.

“I am extremely grateful to Keno for the impact he has made on our student-athletes and the greater CMU community,” Central Michigan athletic director Amy Folan said via release. ”Decisions like this are always difficult. However, after spending the last few months evaluating all aspects of our program, I believe it is necessary and appropriate to make a change in leadership at this time to achieve the goals we have for men’s basketball.”

Davis, formerly of Iowa City, Iowa, came to Mt. Pleasant after a gap year as an analyst for the Big Ten Network from Providence College, where he led the Friars to a 46-50 record over three seasons, with a postseason appearance in the NIT in 2008. Davis had the relatively unique achievement of reaching the NCAA Tournament in his first full season as a coach, taking over the Drake Bulldogs after his father Tom’s retirement, leading them to the Big Dance in 2007 on the strength of a 28-5 (15-3 Missouri Valley) record.

Davis had gone 142-143 overall in his nine seasons heading the Chippewas, replacing Ernie Zielger (75-111 in six seasons) in 2012. In his time at CMU, Davis led his teams to two division championships (2014-2015) and one MAC Championship game appearance, losing to Buffalo in 2015. CMU would also make four postseason appearances in his nine seasons, with one appearance each in the NIT (2015) and CBI (2019), as well as two appearances in the CIT (2016, 2018.)

What ultimately decided Davis’ fate was his poor conference record, as his Chippewa teams combined to go 62-96 in MAC play, with 2020 proving to be a fatal blow to any hope of retaining his job, as CMU finished a lowly 7-16 (3-12 MAC), including an embarrassing 20+ point loss to Division II Flagler University in neutral-court tournament play in Miami, Florida.

Per The Detroit News, Davis made $319,923 in base salary, plus $100,000 for TV and radio appearances, with bonuses for attaining 20-win seasons. Davis’ buyout, negotiated back in 2019 under then-athletic director Michael Alford, was reduced to $400,000 after April 1. Davis had three years remaining on his reworked extension.

CMU will become the second in-state MAC team to conduct a coaching search in 2021, with EMU parting ways with Rob Murphy last week. WMU replaced long-time head coach Steve Hawkins after his retirement in 2020, meaning all three Michigan MAC teams will have coaches with one year or less at the helm going into the 2021-22 season.

CMU is expected to conduct a nationwide search, effective immediately.