SANTA CLARA -- With a resume that includes 18 postseason appearances and three conference coach of the year awards, along with demonstrated player and staff development, Herb Sendek has been hired as Santa Clara’s head men’s basketball coach.
Sendek, one of the three youngest coaches with 400 or more career victories, has had three successful head-coaching tenures at the Division I level. He has spent 22 seasons as a collegiate head coach with stops at Arizona State, North Carolina State and Miami (Ohio), compiling a 413-295 (.583) career record, including 39 victories against top 25 teams. He earned coach of the year in the Pac-10, Atlantic Coast Conference and Mid-American Conference.
“We’re thrilled to bring Coach Sendek into the Santa Clara University family,” director of athletics Renee Baumgartner said. “He’s a veteran coach and a proven winner who has been successful at the highest levels of college basketball. This is an exciting day for Santa Clara basketball.”
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sendek has recruited or coached a number of standout players, including NBA first-round draft choices James Harden (Arizona State), Julius Hodge (NC State) and Wally Szczerbiak (Miami). Sendek also has 12 former assistant coaches, administrative assistants or graduate assistants currently serving as Division I head coaches.
“I would sincerely like to thank [University president] Father Engh and Renee Baumgartner for giving me the opportunity to coach at Santa Clara University,” Sendek said. “My family and I are thrilled to join the Santa Clara community. We are excited to get started and look forward to building on the foundation of the efforts of those who have come before us.”
He most recently served nine seasons (2006-15) at Arizona State, posting five 20-win campaigns and making five postseason appearances, including two trips to the NCAAs for a program which had only three in the previous 25 years. In addition, the Sun Devils produced just three 20-win campaigns in the prior 25 seasons to his arrival.
Sendek, who posted a 159-137 (.537) record at the school, led ASU to three straight 20-win seasons - 2007-08 (21-13), 2008-09 (25-10) and 2009-10 (22-11) - which had not happened since 1961-63. He was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2009-10 when the Sun Devils went 25-10.
Sendek, 53, had a successful 10-year tenure (1996-2006) at North Carolina State, which finished with five straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including four with at least one victory.
He amassed a 191-132 (.591) mark with the Wolfpack, earning 2003-04 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year. In his final five seasons, NCSU won 53 league games, with only Duke totaling more (76) in that time frame.
The 15th coach in Santa Clara men’s basketball history, Sendek earned his first head-coaching job at Miami University when he was just 30 years old. He led the now RedHawks to the postseason in each of his three seasons (1993-96) and his winning percentage (.708/63-26) remains first in school history (minimum three years).
After winning the 1994-95 MAC regular-season title, Miami (Ohio) earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where Sendek’s 12th-seeded squad defeated No. 5 seed (and 15th-ranked) Arizona before losing to 13th-ranked and fourth-seeded Virginia in overtime.
He is the only coach ever to lead Miami to postseason play in each of his first three seasons, and he reached 50 victories quicker than any other coach at the school.
“Herb Sendek is an excellent hire for Santa Clara,” former Santa Clara head basketball coach and director of athletics Carroll Williams said. “Coach Sendek brings a wealth of successful experience to the Santa Clara community. He is an excellent teacher and innovator of the game of basketball. His basketball and academic background will blend well with the entire Santa Clara community. Coach Sendek is who we need at Santa Clara.”
After finishing at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1985, which included a stint as a volunteer assistant at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Sendek began an eight-year stint as a Division I assistant coach.
He served as an assistant coach at Providence College for four years (1985-89), starting under Rick Pitino and helping the Friars earn a trip to the 1987 Final Four. He spent his final season under head coach Rick Barnes with the Friars again landing in the NCAA Tournament.
With a reputation as a standout recruiter, Sendek joined Pitino at Kentucky for the 1989-90 season and remained for four years. Sports Illustrated named him one of the top 10 recruiters in the nation during 1992-93, which ended in a Final Four run for the Wildcats.
Coming off two years probation, Kentucky also made a trip to the 1992 Elite Eight, a run that ended in overtime against Duke on the famous Grant Hill-to-Christian Laettner last-second inbounds heave.
In addition to his on-court success, Sendek, who graduated from college with 3.95 grade-point average, has stressed academics. While at Arizona State, the program had a 100-percent senior graduation rate and the top graduation success rate in the Pac-12. He inherited a team with Academic Progress Rate (APR) scholarship penalties and posted a perfect 1,000 score in five reporting years, including each of the final four (2010-11 through 2013-14).
Four Arizona State players earned master’s degrees in Sendek’s final three seasons and six former players came back to finish their studies.
“Coach Sendek has a track record of great success both on the court and in the classroom,” Baumgartner said. “His philosophy mirrors that of our University in developing the whole person.”
Sendek was one of only three coaches who had NBA first-round picks in both the 2005 and 2006 drafts, and then followed that up in 2009 with a top-three pick (Harden at No. 3) and the first pick of the second round (Jeff Pendergraph). Jahii Carson earned Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year in 2012-13, while Jordan Bachynski was the 2013-14 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Sendek is the co-author of Gen Y Now – Millennials and the Evolution of Leadership and is a member of the NCAA Ethics Coalition. He and his wife, Melanie, have three daughters - Kristin, Catherine, Kelly.
Santa Clara University media services