OMAHA, Neb. - A contrite Dana Altman vowed to finish his career at Creighton, just two days after he was introduced as Arkansas’ new basketball coach.
Now that he has returned, he knows he must regain the trust of his players.
“This is home,” the 48-year-old Altman said Wednesday. “This is where I will finish my coaching career. That’s pretty obvious now.”
Just 24 hours after he was introduced at Arkansas on Monday, Altman was on a plane back to Omaha.
“My ego and money affected my decision,” said Altman, who reportedly was offered $1.5 million by Arkansas. “After I had an opportunity to think about it with the good counsel of my wife (Reva), we decided relationships — family, friends who have been great to us, a city that has been great to us, players who have been just unbelievable for a long period of time — were more important to us than making that move.”
Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen said he had no reservations about taking back Altman, who has had nine straight 20-win seasons and taken the Bluejays to the NCAA tournament seven of his 13 years at the school.
“Coach and I play golf on a somewhat regular basis, and he knows that his boss occasionally needs and takes a mulligan,” Rasmussen said. “So it’s easy for me today to say, ’Coach, I grant you a mulligan.’ “
Altman met with Creighton’s players shortly after arriving in Omaha on Tuesday night. He also has called recruits and said he’s satisfied he’ll be able to keep the incoming class together.
He said he knows he must rebuild relationships with fans and boosters.
“I went out on a date with somebody else, so there is some trust broken there,” he said. “I hope, first of all, that the relationship I had with them previously will help. It starts with our players, because they’re the ones I’m closest with.”
Altman said Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles first approached him Friday. He accepted the job Monday morning.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
At 6 a.m. Tuesday, Altman called Rasmussen to ask for his job back.
“I had to make sure I had a place to come back to,” Altman said. “It became obvious that that’s what I wanted to do.”
Nothing he discovered in Arkansas made him change his mind, Altman said.
“My decision was with the heart and something I needed to do.”
The Arkansas chancellor called Altman’s one-day tenure “one of the shortest chapters and most disappointing chapters in the history of the institution.”
In previous years, Altman has been pursued by Illinois, Georgia, Miami and other schools. He said he doubts his phone will ring with calls from prospective employers any time soon.
“A school would be real reluctant to make an offer to someone who’s backed out of one. That’s a reality of life,” Altman said. “That’s OK. My wife and I are comfortable in this decision. There are no second thoughts about that at all.”
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