March 27, 2007 –– The University of Utah has named Jim Boylen as the school’s 14th head men’s basketball coach, director of athletics Dr. Chris Hill announced today. Boylen, the top assistant at Michigan State University the past two years after spending 13 seasons coaching in the NBA, has agreed to a five-year contact worth $575,000 per year for base salary, radio and TV compensation and camps.
“We’re excited to have Jim as our new head coach,” said Hill. “He is someone who has tremendous knowledge of the game of basketball, cares about his players, is into the individual development of each player, and shares our vision for the University of Utah basketball program.” Boylen, 41, brings 20 years of coaching experience in the collegiate and professional ranks with him to Utah. After working 13 years in the NBA, Boylen recently returned to Michigan State, where he began his coaching career in 1987.
As Tom Izzo’s top assistant the past two seasons, Boylen helped direct the Spartans to a 45-24 record and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. Michigan State advanced to the second round of the NCAA’s in 2007 and ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA in three defensive categories: 7th in scoring defense (57.2 ppg), 7th in field goal percentage defense (38.4) and 9th in rebound margin (+7.0 rpg). The Spartans, who had eight underclassmen and no seniors on the roster, went 8-8 in the Big Ten Conference.
“This is a dream come true for me to become the head coach at Utah,” said Boylen. “My family and I are very thankful for this opportunity, and we are excited about becoming a part of the community. We are going to try to build a program that Michael Young, Chris Hill and the Utah fans can be proud of, and we are going to do it the right way.”
Boylen began his coaching career at Michigan State, working under former head coach Jud Heathcote from 1987-92. After serving as a graduate assistant for two seasons he was promoted to a full-time assistant in 1989, filling that role for three years. The Spartans won the Big Ten Conference title and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in 1990. Michigan State also made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1991 and 1992.
From there, Boylen made his jump to the NBA. He joined the Houston Rockets as a video coordinator in 1992 and was promoted to assistant coach two years later. The Rockets won back-to-back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 1997.
During Boylen’s 11-year stint in Houston, the Rockets made seven playoff appearances and had just two losing seasons. He also worked with four of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players in Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen, while working under one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Rudy Tomjanovich. Boylen’s duties included skill development, game and practice preparation, working with the perimeter players, as well as positioning and shooting. He was also in charge of team and opponent analysis.
In 2003-04, Boylen worked as an assistant coach at Golden State, and then spent the 2004-05 season with the Milwaukee Bucks.
A native of East Grand Rapids, Mich., Boylen received his bachelor’s degree in business from Maine in 1987. He captained the Black Bears’ basketball team as a junior and senior and earned first team all-North Atlantic Conference honors in his final year, averaging 21 points per game. He finished second in the conference Player of the Year voting to Northeastern’s Reggie Lewis. Boylen and his wife, Christine, have two daughters, Ashlen Clare and Layla Blu.
Boylen takes over a Utah team that went 11-19 and tied for sixth in the Mountain West Conference with a 6-10 record last season. Nine of the 13 players who saw action were either freshmen or sophomores, and four starters are expected to return. Senior guard/forward Ricky Johns, who has exhausted his eligibility, and freshman center David Foster, who will leave to serve a two-year LDS church mission, are the only two players certain to not return.
The Utah program celebrates its 100th season next year. Utah ranks 10th in the NCAA with a .656 (1,595-833) winning percentage. The Runnin’ Utes have also made 26 NCAA Tournament appearances, recorded 32 20-win seasons, and won 28 conference championships.