On the eve of an expected fourth NCAA Tournament bid in five seasons, the University of Colorado might be losing one of its men’s basketball leaders.
According to reports published on Friday, CU assistant coach Rodney Billups is set to take the head coach job at the University of Denver. ESPN, citing unnamed sources, said an announcement would arrive early next week. That report was posted roughly two hours after DU announced it was not retaining head coach Joe Scott after nine seasons.
Billups declined a request to comment on the situation.
The potential move would reunite Billups with his alma mater, as Billups was the floor general for the first DU team to make a significant impact at the Division I level, which the school joined in 1998.
Like his brother, CU legend and former NBA star Chauncey Billups, Rodney Billups graduated from Denver’s George Washington High School. The younger Billups then played one season at Los Angeles Valley College before transferring to DU.
Billups played three seasons at DU, leading the Pioneers to a 20-11 record during his senior season of 2004-05 and the program’s first berth in the National Invitation Tournament in 46 years. That season, Billups averaged 10.2 points, 6.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per game.
Despite playing just three seasons with the Pioneers, Billups made an indelible impact with the program. He is ranked fourth among DU’s all-time leaders in assists and ranks sixth in steals. His 199 assists during his senior year is tied for the third-best single-season total in DU history.
Overall with the Pioneers, Billups averaged 8.5 points, 4.6 assists and 1.7 steals.
Billups played three seasons professionally in Latvia and Finland and joined CU’s staff in 2010 as head coach Tad Boyle’s director of basketball operations. He has spent six seasons with CU and was promoted to assistant coach for the 2012-13 season.
Billups’ background makes him an ideal fit at DU, and he could be a more frugal replacement for Scott. As a private school Denver does not disclose salaries, but a 2010 report from the Denver Post indicated Scott made a base of $300,000 that ballooned to over $412,000 with incentives. Scott was still under contract through the 2017-18 season.
In a statement released by DU on Friday, athletic director Peg Bradley-Doppes stated: “At this juncture we feel the time is right to make a change in the direction of the program and we look forward to entering a new, exciting era for the program with a dynamic new head coach at the helm.”
While not a direct quote, the release went on to say “we expect to announce a new leader for the program in the near future.”
Scott went 146-132 in his nine seasons at DU and led the Pioneers to a return trip to the NIT in 2013. DU finished 16-15 this year.