Embattled Long Beach State Coach Is Not Coaching for Job vs. Arizona

Dan Monson was fired – and then led his team to an unexpected NCAA tournament berth

Head coach Dan Monson of the Long Beach State University, who was fired before his team made it to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
Head coach Dan Monson of Long Beach State can't save his job.
Michael Owens/Getty

The winningest coach in Long Beach State University history, Dan Monson has spent 17 seasons with the Beach but won’t be back with the school for an 18th year despite leading his team to an unlikely bid in the NCAA Tournament. Monson, 62, isn’t retiring — he was fired before going to Las Vegas and winning the Big West tournament to lock up Long Beach’s first trip to the Big Dance in more than a decade.

Long Beach (No. 15) will play early Thursday afternoon in first-round action; they are 20-point underdogs to their opponent, Arizona (No. 2). Even if Monson can inspire his team to a massive upset, he will not be asked back for another run next season, according to Sportico. Asked by the publication if postseason success this month might cause Long Beach to re-evaluate the decision to part ways with Monson, an athletics spokesman said, “No. The decision was made with a possible postseason run in mind.”

Fired on March 11, Monson could be showing up for his final day of work later today in Salt Lake City. At least he’s not bitter about it. “I don’t have to answer anything I don’t want to because I’m working for free today,” Monson joked during his news conference on Wednesday. “Did you guys see the Seinfeld when George Costanza was trying to get fired and couldn’t lose his job, still going to work every day? That’s me. I’m a Seinfeld episode going on right now in real life.”

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He continued with some more perspective: “I knew the car was leased. I mean, they wanted the keys back. It’s not insured this week but I still get to drive it. I’m going to try to keep it on the road, the road to the Final Four. I’m going to try to keep it on there.”

However Monson’s Cinderella story ends, he’s really got nothing to lose, including his job. “I wouldn’t trade my life for anybody in the world,” he said. “I don’t know where it goes from here. I’m not auditioning or anything like that. I am who I am.”

If Long Beach and Monson continue their run today, Arizona will also make history, as a team that has been a No. 2 seed two years in a row has never lost in the first round both times. Second-ranked Arizona lost to No. 15 Princeton in last year’s tournament.

Go Beach.

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