Rodney Billups made it official: He's returning to his alma mater to lead the University of Denver Pioneers.

And he's bringing Ricardo Patton with him.

Billups, a member of Colorado coach Tad Boyle's staff the past six years and a former Pioneers point guard, was introduced Monday morning at DU, becoming the 32nd coach in the program's history.

Billups replaces Joe Scott, who was fired Friday after nine seasons. An ESPN report saying Billups was next in line surfaced just hours after the announcement of Scott's dismissal.

Billups confirmed that Patton, CU's head coach from the middle of the 1995-96 season through 2006-07, would join his staff at DU. Billups also said he would remain with the Buffs through their NCAA Tournament run before rolling up his sleeves to get to work at DU.

"It happened so fast," Billups said. "It was nothing that I expected. I expected to be with Tad forever. My idea of a perfect career was going with Tad and doing whatever Tad needed me to do. I had no interest in pursuing this until (DU athletic director Peg Bradley-Doppes) called me. Everything changed when she called me.

"I'm excited. I'm overwhelmed. I'm nervous. But I'm ready. I know that Tad is always going to be a phone call away."

Despite the rapid-fire report posted by ESPN after Scott's dismissal, Bradley-Doppes said she considered "five or six folks that were on the list," but none matched Billups' DU pedigree. The Denver native remains among DU's all-time leaders in assists and steals and helped the Pioneers end a 46-year NIT drought in 2005.


"I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't look at the landscape constantly," Bradley-Doppes said. "Truthfully, nobody was close. We did do due process in investigating, but the fit ... he knows DU. He knows this community. Once we talked, we knew we wanted to do it."

The 32-year old Billups worked the room at DU during his introductory press conference with veteran ease, even responding to an alum's question about how they can aid his transition by deadpanning, "Got your checkbook with you?"

Billups said one of the biggest bits of advice he received from Boyle throughout the process was that he should try to bring a former head coach to his staff. Patton fills that role.

Patton's 184 wins still ranks second all-time at CU, and he served as a mentor and coach to Billups' older brother Chauncey, a CU legend and former NBA great. Patton not only gives Rodney Billups a veteran sounding board, but he always was regarded as a strong recruiter as well.

"There's nothing that he hasn't seen or done," Billups said. "I'm going to rely on him a lot to teach me to be a head coach and things to look for. He's excited. He's ready to get back on the court and have some fun and develop some kids."

Pat Rooney: or