Hoosiers bring back former star player Woodson as coach

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 16, 2014, file photo, then-New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson watches his team play during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, in New York. Indiana will hire former star player and longtime NBA coach Mike Woodson as its new head coach. A person with knowledge of the decision confirmed the hiring to The Associated Press on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, April 16, 2014, file photo, then-New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson watches his team play during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, in New York. Indiana will hire former star player and longtime NBA coach Mike Woodson as its new head coach. A person with knowledge of the decision confirmed the hiring to The Associated Press on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

INDIANAPOLIS – Mike Woodson won one Big Ten title and one NIT championship while playing for Bob Knight.

He's hoping to celebrate a lot more frequently at his alma mater over the next several years.

Indiana hired the former star player as its new coach Sunday, issuing a four-word statement on Twitter — “Welcome home, Coach Woodson” — before the formal announcement.

Woodson returned to the New York Knicks as an assistant this season after previously serving as New York's head coach for a little more than two seasons. He was expected to meet with his new players Sunday evening and will be introduced Monday.

“I have spoken with numerous individuals at the college and NBA levels, and they were unanimous in their support of and respect for Mike," athletic director Scott Dolson said. “From his ability in terms of X’s and O’s to his skill at building relationships and developing players, his reputation is outstanding. As a coach, he’s succeeded at the highest levels of the NBA, and he’s mentored some of the game’s all-time great players."

The 63-year-old Indianapolis native was a college star, finishing his playing career as the second-leading scorer in Hoosiers history. After graduating in 1980, he went to play in the NBA and then spent his entire coaching career at the professional level. In nine seasons as coach, most of those with the Atlanta Hawks, Woodson went 315-365.

“We know it is a very special opportunity for Mike to return to his alma mater as head coach and wish him the very best,” Knicks president Leon Rose said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Woody had a great impact on our team’s play and culture this season and he will be missed.”

Woodson becomes the first Indiana alum hired as head coach since Lou Watson replaced Branch McCracken in 1965. Dan Dakich, who also played for Knight and is now a radio personality and color commentator on ESPN, was interim coach for seven games in 2008 after Kelvin Sampson was fired.