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Hoop Dreams: Dan McHale '97

Dan McHale '97


As a Division I college basketball coach, Dan McHale ’97 has helped guide some of the most well-known programs in the sport including Louisville, Kentucky, Minnesota, Eastern Kentucky, and Seton Hall. A self-proclaimed “basketball nut” from an early age, McHale said that his journey to his dream job began at Morristown Beard School and in teacher and coach Eddie Franz’s office to be specific.

“Eddie Franz had the biggest influence on my life and career. I spent more time in Eddie Franz’s office, ‘X’ing and ‘O’ing, talking hoops, to the point where he would say, ‘Dan, you’ve gotta go to class!’ And I said, ‘Eddie, I’m not here for that right now; I’m here to learn from you. I want to be a successful Division I college basketball coach.’”

Since McHale considered himself “an average basketball player at best,” he knew that breaking into the coaching profession would be a long shot.

“Many of the people I talked to said I was crazy, but not Coach Franz. He said, ‘Ok, what do we have to do?’ He taught me the value of belief,” said McHale. “He was the first person to make the phone call to the University of Kentucky and basically jump-start my career.”

After graduating from MBS, McHale enrolled at the University of Kentucky as a business major and became the student manager for the powerhouse basketball team that was coached by Hall of Famer Tubby Smith. From there, he landed his first coaching job—at the University of Louisville with another Hall of Fame coach, Rick Pitino. “There were over 10,000 applicants for this graduate assistant position. I’m just thankful that I landed it because my career took off from there,” he said.

McHale spent a season at Manhattan College as the director of operations before returning to Louisville as the director of video operations. He was then hired as an assistant at Iona, helping the team to 21 wins in his third season. From there, he coached at Seton Hall and Minnesota, where he earned an NIT title.

“I’ve been to multiple NCAA Tournaments, won a national championship, toured The White House, and been on national TV hundreds of times, but I guess my best accomplishment was being selected to become a head coach at Eastern Kentucky at the young age of 35,” said McHale. “I believe I was the third youngest Division 1 head coach at the time.”

He spent three years at Eastern Kentucky before joining the University of New Mexico as an assistant coach.

Today, McHale serves as partner and head of collegiate sports at Odgers Berndtson, one of the largest executive search firms in the world, where he leads searches for universities looking to hire head coaches and athletics administrators.

“My goals are to grow my business and be a major player in the collegiate sports industry, as well as coach youth sports in New Jersey in my spare time,” he said. “I love coaching basketball, especially young kids who have aspirations.”

McHale is eager to pass along the same advice to today’s student-athletes that Eddie Franz gave him when he was in school—to be genuine in everything you do. “Each job I got as I rose in the college ranks was because of my reputation,” he said. “Being a good person and working your tail off will take you a long way!”


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