NCAA Basketball

Ball State hires UCLA assistant coach Michael Lewis

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) UCLA assistant coach Michael Lewis will be taking over Ball State's program once the Bruins complete their NCAA Tournament run.

Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz announced Friday she had hired Lewis to replace James Whitford, who was fired after going 131-148 in 10 seasons.

Goetz said Lewis won't officially begin his new job until UCLA's season is over. The Bruins faced North Carolina in an East Region semifinal late Friday at Philadelphia.

"We are very excited to return to the state of Indiana where basketball means so much to lead a program with tremendous history and great potential," Lewis said in a statement.

Lewis takes over a Ball State program that hasn't reached an NCAA Tournament since 2000. The Cardinals went 14-17 this season, their third losing record in the last four seasons.

Lewis has spent 18 seasons as an assistant coach and has been at UCLA the last three seasons. UCLA has gone 68-29 in those three seasons and reached the Final Four last year.

"Michael has the entire package of coaching acumen, player relation skills and recruiting chops to build the Cards into a force in the Mid-American Conference," UCLA coach Mick Cronin said in a statement.

He also has plenty of experience in the state of Indiana.

Lewis played for Bob Knight at Indiana from 1996-200 and worked a graduate assistant on Knight's Texas Tech staff. He was a team captain his senior season and ended his college playing career as Indiana's all-time assist leader, though his record has since been broken by Yogi Ferrell.

A prep star in Indiana, Lewis also was an assistant coach at Butler from 2011-16. Butler went 108-63 with three NCAA Tournament berths during those five seasons.

He came to UCLA after three seasons at Nebraska. He also has been an assistant at Eastern Illinois and Stephen F. Austin.

"His outlook on the game, relationship building, recruiting network, pedigree and proactive approach to engagement with our stakeholders resides at a high level," Goetz said. "Additionally, his program values and standards on the court, in the classroom and the community will create a road map for the Cardinals to move onward, compete for Mid-American Conference titles and position our institution for a return to the NCAA Tournament."

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Updated March 25, 2022

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