Just hours after Mark Fox was announced as the new basketball coach at Georgia, Nevada athletic director Cary Groth named longtime Wolf Pack assistant coach David Carter as his replacement Friday.
"David brings great integrity and competitiveness to this position and he is the right person to continue to lead the Wolf Pack basketball program forward," Groth said at an afternoon news conference.
"He provides continuity and has played a significant role in building the foundation that has made our program so successful," she said. Nevada has posted six consecutive 20-win seasons and seven straight postseason appearances, four in the NCAA tournament.
Carter, 42, has been an assistant at Nevada since then-coach Trent Johnson hired him in 1999. He was elevated to associate head coach in 2004 when Johnson was hired by Stanford and Fox took over.
"Wow," Carter said when Groth introduced him to the media along with his wife, Kimberly, and two children, Alexis, 10, and Cameron, 8. "I can't tell you how excited I am to be the next head coach of Nevada."
"This program is not going backward, I promise that," he said.
The terms of Carter's five-year contract were not immediately released. He said he had interviewed for various jobs over the years, "but nothing felt right."
"This feels right," he said. "I paid my dues."
"I've been part of it and I know what it takes," Carter said.
Carter previously served as an assistant at Eastern Washington and Saint Mary's, his alma mater where he played in the late 1980s and was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame.
Fox told reporters in Athens, Ga., earlier in the day he expected Carter to take over the Wolf Pack program.
"There is no one more prepared or deserving of this opportunity than David Carter," Fox said.
Fox had stumped for Carter to be his eventual successor in February. After Fox was ejected from a game against Virginia Commonwealth, Carter steered the Wolf Pack to a come-from-behind victory.
"There's only two people who understand how this program was sustained, and how we've developed this tradition: That's myself
and David Carter," Fox said afterward. "And the day that I leave
here, I think he proved to you tonight why he should be the next
coach when my career ends because he's terrific and led our team
back and did a terrific job."
Fox announced Friday that he is taking assistant coach Kwanza
Johnson with him to Georgia, where he steps in for Dennis Felton
who was fired. Carter said assistant coach Doug Novsek will remain
on his staff and he will hire two more assistants.
Carter said his coaching philosophy is similar to Fox's. He said he likely will use a "little more up-tempo" attack and is leaning toward bringing in a junior college transfer to fill the last available scholarship on a team that went 21-13 this season while starting two freshmen and two sophomores. All but two players are scheduled to return next season.
"We're going to compete every year for a championship - that's our goal," he said. "Play in the post season. That's always been our goal."
Carter was a guard at Saint Mary's from 1985-89. He helped lead the Gaels to the NCAA tournament his senior year, finishing the season ranked 17th in the nation with a 25-5 record.
Carter said Fox, Johnson and Lynn Nance - his coach and "mentor" at Saint Mary's - deserved the credit for his success. He decided he wanted to coach while playing his sophomore year for Nance.
Carter said he knows he's putting pressure on himself to vow to compete for the Western Athletic Conference title every season.
"But I'm built to win championships. I won in high school, I won in college and I won here as a coach," he said.
Carter said he didn't learn until Thursday that Fox was serious about the Georgia job.
"It happened so fast. I think he assumed it was a courtesy. And when he found out they were serious and he told me, I was shocked. I really was," Carter said.
"Mark is like a brother to me. I never expected him to leave like that. Not that it's bad or anything, but it happened so fast. I was surprised but I also was happy for him."