WORCESTER, Mass. - Holy Cross head men's basketball coach Ralph Willard has announced his resignation. Willard has served as the Crusaders' head coach for the last 10 years, posting an overall record of 192-117 and a 95-33 mark in Patriot League play. He led the Crusaders to four Patriot League tournament titles and four trips to the NCAA Tournament, in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007. Willard also guided Holy Cross to four Patriot League regular season championships (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007), and one appearance in the National Invitation Tournament (2005).
"This is obviously one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make in my career, but after much thought and examination I think it is best for the program going forward and for me personally," said Willard. "I'm tremendously proud of the student-athletes I have had the privilege to coach here, all they have accomplished and the way they have represented themselves and the school.
"I want to take the chance to thank Dick Regan and the administration for allowing me the opportunity to coach at Holy Cross and I want everyone to know this has been a special decade not only in my career, but in my life. I know that Dick and the administration will find the right person for the program and our guys, to continue to move the program forward in a way we can all be proud of."
The second all-time winningest coach at Holy Cross, behind only George Blaney (357-276 / 1972-1994), Willard was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2001, 2005 and 2007. The Crusaders finished with a winning record in eight of Willard's 10 years at the helm, including five 20-win seasons. The 2002-2003 team posted a 26-5 mark, to come up just one win shy of the school single-season record for victories.
"This is a sad day for me," said Holy Cross athletic director Richard M. Regan, Jr. "When I arrived at Holy Cross 11 years ago, the first major decision I had to make was to hire a new basketball coach, and I hired Ralph Willard. It's hard for me to believe this particular era has come to an end.
"If one had told me at the time that Ralph would stay for 10 years and take us to the postseason five times, I would have been ecstatic. Having said that, I had hoped he would retire here, and I am disappointed that it won't end that way. I consider Ralph to be one of the best coaches in America, and a good friend.
"I feel nothing but positive things about Ralph and his tenure at Holy Cross. He has recruited quality student-athletes, not just as players but as outstanding young men. He has done exactly what we asked him to do: elevate the program. He never gave anything but 100 percent, and he conducted himself and the program in a manner that did us proud. I wish him the very best as he begins the final chapter in a great coaching career."
Prior to his time at Holy Cross, Willard spent five seasons as the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, and four years as head coach at Western Kentucky University. He led Western Kentucky to the NCAA Tournament during each of his final two seasons (advancing to the Sweet 16 in 1992-1993), and his overall career record stands at 336-241. Willard is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross, and was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders.
Holy Cross will immediately commence a national search for Willard's replacement.
WILLARD'S HOLY CROSS COACHING RECORD ---Overall--- ---Patriot League--- Season W L Pct. W L Pct. Place Postseason Appearances 1999-2000 10 18 .357 3 9 .250 Fifth 2000-2001 22 8 .733 10 2 .833 First NCAA First Round 2001-2002 18 15 .545 9 5 .643 Second NCAA First Round 2002-2003 26 5 .839 13 1 .929 First NCAA First Round 2003-2004 13 15 .464 7 7 .500 Fifth 2004-2005 25 7 .781 13 1 .929 First NIT Second Round 2005-2006 20 12 .625 11 3 .786 Second 2006-2007 25 9 .735 13 1 .929 First NCAA First Round 2007-2008 15 14 .517 5 9 .357 Eighth 2008-2009 18 14 .563 11 3 .786 Second Totals (10 Seasons) 192 117 .621 95 41 .699 ---- Four NCAAs, One NI