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Report: Mike Krzyzewski Nixed Plan for Tommy Amaker to Replace Him as Duke HC

Adam WellsFebruary 15, 2022

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski nixed a plan that would have made Tommy Amaker his successor. 

In his new book Coach K: The Rise and Reign of Mike Krzyzewski (h/t Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post), Ian O’Connor wrote that Krzyzewski talked Amaker out of accepting an offer from the Blue Devils in order for current assistant Jon Scheyer to take over for him after the 2021-22 season. 

According to O'Connor, Krzyzewski wanted Scheyer as head coach because he "believed he would maintain more control over the program" in his retirement. 

β€œHe can be Don Corleone when he needs to be," one Duke insider told O'Connor.

The discussion between Krzyzewski and Amaker took place on a Zoom call last year, with Coach K telling him if he came back to Duke for the 2021-22 season as an assistant before taking over next year, it would "create an awkward dynamic with Scheyer" and force another assistant already with the program to be demoted. 

One source close to Amaker told O'Connor that the Harvard head coach was "heartbroken" after that call. 

Amaker played point guard for Krzyzewski at Duke from 1983 to 1987. He helped the Blue Devils reach the national championship game in the 1986 NCAA tournament and was named NABC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 1986-87. 

After graduating from college, Amaker joined the Blue Devils' coaching staff as an assistant in 1988 and remained through 1997. The 56-year-old left the program to become head coach at Seton Hall in 1997.

Amaker has since gone on to be the head coach at Michigan (2001-07) and Harvard. He's in his 15th season with the Crimson, having led them to four appearances in the NCAA tournament. 

Scheyer, 34, played for the Blue Devils from 2006 through 2010. He briefly had a professional playing career after graduating before being hired as an assistant by Krzyzewski in April 2013. 

Duke promoted Scheyer to associate head coach in 2018 after Jeff Capel was hired as head coach at Pittsburgh. He was named the coach in waiting in June when Krzyzewski announced he would retire at the end of the 2021-22 season. 

Krzyzewski is in his 42nd season with the Blue Devils. The 75-year-old has won five national titles, three Olympic gold medals as Team USA's head coach and has been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (2001) and College Basketball Hall of Fame (2006).    

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