By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
RUSTON – For the second time in a decade, Louisiana Tech is a victim of its own success in men’s basketball.
The official announcement was issued Monday night that the Bulldogs are searching for a new men’s basketball coach, confirming that after seven seasons in Ruston, Eric Konkol will be introduced today as the successor to fired Frank Haith at Tulsa.
“I want to thank Eric for the job he has done serving as our men’s basketball head coach over the past seven years,” said Tech’s Director of Athletics/Vice President Dr. Eric A. Wood. “He ran a first-class program that was highly competitive on and off the court. Although we are sorry to see him leave, we wish him and his family nothing but the best moving forward. We are excited about the future of Bulldog basketball and we will work diligently to find the right person to lead our program.”
Wood said a national search is underway but no definitive timeline has been set.
Konkol, 45, won 67 percent of his games (153-75) in seven seasons at Tech, going over 20 wins six times. He was an assistant at Miami before following Mike White as the Bulldogs head coach. White left for the Florida job and this offseason moved to take over the Georgia program.
Konkol, like White, couldn’t deliver a berth in the Big Dance to the Bulldogs, but kept standards high throughout his time in Ruston. In his first season, Tech went 23-10 and reached the quarterfinals of the Vegas 16 postseason event. In five of his seven campaigns, his teams finished third or better in Conference USA, winning the West Division in 2021-21.
That was his best performance, a 24-8 season that carried Tech to the National Invitation Tournament semifinals. It netted a third-place finish after a narrow semifinal loss to Mississippi State and a dramatic win over Colorado State in the consolation game.
The Tulsa World reported Konkol had signed a $2 million extension through 2026, so a buyout payment will be required by Tech. His predecessor, Haith, former head coach at Missouri, had a $1.3 million annual salary at Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricanes have a successful hoops history. Konkol steps into a program whose past head coaches have included Nolan Richardson (1980-85), former Tech coach J.D. Barnett (1985-91), Tubby Smith (1991-95), Bill Self (1997-2000) and Danny Manning (2012-14). Tulsa has four NCAA Tournament berths and four NIT appearances this century.
Konkol was a student assistant coach at Tulsa in 2000-01, part of an NIT championship team.
Photo courtesy Louisiana Tech