It's like losing a member of the family. Yet in this case, Colorado Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle couldn't be happier for Rodney Billups.
A member of Boyle's staff since he arrived at CU in 2010, Billups' move to take the head coach job at his alma mater, the University of Denver, became official on Monday. Billups will remain with CU for the duration of the NCAA Tournament, and Boyle will forever be impressed with the level of class and professionalism Billups brought to the program.
"He's done a good job on the recruiting trail since he's been on the road the last three years," Boyle said. "The players have great respect for him and he's got their ear.
"The one thing I'll say about Rodney is that I've probably had as many unsolicited comments, positive feedbacks, about him and his demeanor and how he treats people. Whether it's donors, whether it's alumni, whether it's the custodians in the Coors Events Center or the support staff in Dal Ward. He treats everybody the right way. It's a testament to his parents and the kind of man they have raised."
Though it certainly is a post-NCAA Tournament project, Boyle said he hopes to fill his vacant assistant coach position by the second week of April.
"There is a couple recruiting periods that start in April and you'd like to have your full contingent of coaches," Boyle said. "I'm not going to rush it. In my mind I have an idea what direction we're going to go. But we have to dot a few I's and cross a few T's before that happens. If we could have someone on board that first or second week of April, that would be ideal."
CU and DU have played just twice since 2000 and four times in the past 38 years, but don't expect the rivalry to resume in the immediate future.
While Boyle said he prefers not to play against friends, he has regularly added his former program Northern Colorado to the Buffs' schedule and always is willing to help local programs when possible. Billups, however, believes he will have to ratchet up the Pioneers' profile before CU allots a nonconference date to DU.
"That's something we have to talk about. I'm not sure Tad is ready for that," Billups said. "Scheduling is very important, and until I win some games it's probably not his biggest priority."
"Tad is going to always recruit Colorado. But he's got his recruiting challenges ahead of him, because I am too."
— Billups, on his desire to increase DU's local profile.
Exporting the Madness
Apparently, March Madness is a thing overseas, too.
CU freshman guard Thomas Akyazili, a native of Belgium, said the basketball community in his country regularly tunes in to the highest-profile amateur tournament in the world.
"It's the biggest tournament in basketball and a lot of people watch it," Akyazili said. "It streams online so everyone can watch. I watched it the last couple years. I'm just so happy I get to do this with these guys. It's a memory that I'll never forget."