COLLEGE PARK, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Kevin Willard has been named the new head coach of the Maryland Men’s Basketball program, the athletics department announced on Monday.
Willard served as the head coach at Seton Hall from 2010-22 where he helped the Pirates to the 2020 Big East Regular Season Championship and the 2016 Big East Tournament Championship.
"We are thrilled to welcome Kevin to the Terrapin family," said Damon Evans, Barry P. Gossett Director of Athletics. "We are excited about the future of Maryland basketball with Kevin leading the way. Known for his gritty, hard-working teams, Kevin has had tremendous success, winning conference championships and leading his teams to NCAA Tournaments. He has made a habit of scheduling challenging opponents and winning in those games as evidenced by his record against Big Ten teams in recent years. He has familiarity with the region, being a native New Yorker and having spent much of his life in the Northeast corridor. We welcome Kevin, his wife Julie, and their sons Colin and Chase to the Maryland family and we look forward to the next great chapter in Terrapin basketball history."
Having won a regular-season conference championship, conference tournament championship and earning conference coach of the year, Willard is one of 10 active head coaches in the Power 6 conferences to achieve each of the accomplishments in the last six seasons.
"On behalf of the entire University of Maryland community, it is my honor to welcome Coach Kevin Willard and his family to College Park," said Darryll J. Pines, President of the University of Maryland. "As a leader, coach, mentor, and teacher, Coach Willard is a tremendous choice to lead our men’s basketball program into its next era of distinction."
The past season, Willard led Seton Hall to a 21-11 overall record and an 11-8 mark in conference play. He has a 225-161 overall record at Seton Hall in 12 seasons. He is second all-time in victories (225) in Seton Hall basketball history and has the most wins in conference play in program history (110).
His teams have posted .500 or better records in the last nine consecutive seasons and he is also the 11th all-time winningest coach in Big East history, dating to the conference’s inception in 1979.
"Growing up and coaching in the region, I have always admired the Maryland basketball program and being named the new head coach of one of the biggest brands in college basketball is a tremendous honor," said Willard. "Thank you to President Pines and Damon Evans for trusting me to reenergize this proud program as we look to galvanize our passionate fanbase with a gritty, hard-working style of basketball. Having coached against Maryland several times and at XFINITY Center, I know how Terp fans feel about their team and understand their expectations. Skill development and a dedication to academic success will be cornerstones of our program and I can promise Terp Nation we will work to make them proud of this basketball team as we build winners on the court and in the classroom. Julie and our boys are excited to join the Terrapin family."
Prior to the start of his career as a head coach, Willard was an assistant and associate head coach for six years at Louisville, where he was mentored by Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Pitino.
Willard also credits his father, Ralph, as one of his coaching influences. Ralph Willard enjoyed a successful 19-year run as the head coach at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross, winning 336 games and advancing to six NCAA Tournaments.
At Louisville, Willard was responsible for assisting with the Cardinals' game preparations, scouting and preparing game plans. He also served as chief recruiting coordinator.
During his tenure, Louisville was ranked in the Top 25 for five seasons and reached the postseason in each of his six years. The squad reached the NCAA Tournament on four occasions including a visit to the 2005 Final Four, the first time in 19 years that the Cardinals had advanced that deep into the postseason. In his six seasons at Louisville, the Cardinals posted a phenomenal 142-58 record averaging nearly 24 wins per season.
Prior to Louisville, Willard worked with Pitino as a coaching associate with the Boston Celtics for four years. His duties with the Celtics included game and practice preparation, scouting and assisting the coaching staff in all facets of basketball operations. He also provided advance scouting, videotape breakdowns and assisted with individual workouts prior to games.
A basketball lifer, Willard played point guard on the Division I level for four years; the last three coming at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned Big East All-Academic honors while appearing in 60 games for the Panthers. He spent his freshman season at Western Kentucky, where he played in the backcourt and sank over 40 percent of his three-point field goal attempts.
Willard hails from New York and was born in Huntington on Long Island, but played his high school basketball at Bowling Green High School (Ky.) while his father was the head coach at Western Kentucky. He earned second-team All-State honors as a senior and helped his team to a combined 76-15 record in his final three prep seasons.
Willard is married to the former Julie Wagner and they have two sons, Colin, who was born in August 2006 and Chase born in June 2008.