Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
Tommy Amaker had a long wait between NCAA tournament trips. After making the Sweet 16 at Seton Hall in 2000, he surely had visions of building a powerhouse at Michigan when he arrived there in 2001. With that program still in the NCAA's doghouse following the wide-ranging Ed Martin scandal, the sledding was much tougher than Amaker may have anticipated.
Amaker won 22 or more games three times at UM, but all three seasons saw his team relegated to the NIT. He made the most of the experiences, winning the championship in 2004 and finishing second in 2006, but the athletic department was tired of waiting to make the tournament that mattered. Amaker was canned in March 2007.
When he took the job at Harvard, it was expected that he would fade into the shadows, since the Ivy League very rarely turned out nationally relevant programs. The Crimson were especially undistinguished, having never won an Ivy League title and making only one NCAA tournament—in 1946.
Harvard has certainly rectified both of those situations with a vengeance under Amaker. The Crimson tied Princeton for the 2010-11 regular-season title but lost the one-game playoff. Harvard has won the last three crowns in succession, attained the school's first-ever Associated Press ranking and claimed its first two NCAA tournament wins, beating New Mexico and Cincinnati in the past two years.
Amaker was praised for running a clean Michigan program after inheriting the stain of scandal, but he has run afoul of the NCAA for dodgy recruiting practices at Harvard. However, those violations occurred in 2010, and much of the grumbling about Amaker these days comes from Ivy League opponents and even some Harvard alumni concerned about the university's academic standards.
Still, there's no disputing that Amaker is recruiting a different class of player to the Ivy League, and until someone finds proof of wrongdoing, the Crimson will be a tough hurdle for any opponent to clear.