Pollard shares details on parting ways with Steve Prohm, offers coaching search details

Jamie Pollard said T.J. Otzelberger’s passion and love for the Iowa State program was a major factor in making him the 21st head men’s basketball coach at Iowa State.

Zane Douglas

A Monday filled with coaches losing their jobs included Iowa State men’s basketball with the news that Cyclones Head Coach Steve Prohm would part ways.

The program has regressed over the last couple years, and the six-year head coach wasn’t able to keep his job. A statement came from Iowa State Athletics, but Tuesday is when Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard released his own statement — this time in the form of a video he posted on Twitter, cyclones.com and YouTube.

“Last night, I personally met with Coach Prohm and shared the news with him that we were gonna make a change with our men’s basketball head coach position,” Pollard said. “Personnel decisions are always tough, and they should be. You’re impacting the coach, his family, our assistant coaches and their families, our players and their families and our recruits.”

Pollard went over many things in the video, including the timeline of his season-long meetings with Prohm and the immediate search for a new head coach.

Thanking Prohm

After losing on March 10 to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament, Prohm told the media that he and Pollard would meet the next week to discuss his future with Iowa State.

That meeting came Monday.

“I’m sorry that it has come to this,” Pollard said. “I know he worked his whole career to get to a spot to get a job like Iowa State University, and it breaks my heart to be part of taking that away from him and from his staff.”

Pollard talked about how hard decisions like this always will be in his line of work and praised Prohm’s character and values.

“Coach Prohm is a great human being,” Pollard said. “He is about as classy of a basketball coach and a person I’ve ever been around.”

Explaining the decision

Pollard said in the video that he and Prohm had been having conversations for several weeks about the season — a year that ended with a 2-22 record for the Cyclones and no conference wins — about the future of the program and about how Iowa State got to where it is right now.

The Cyclones and Prohm’s staff recently did not have a hard time landing some big-name recruits, but recruiting class depth along with recent struggles have amplified a need for better development along with better team building.

“It’s critical that our men’s basketball program be healthy,” Pollard said. “It’s so important to this community, to this institution, to our president, to our athletics department, and I have a responsibility to make sure it stays healthy.”

Prohm’s predecessor, Fred Hoiberg, had a successful career as the Cyclones head coach — a gig that would land him a job in the NBA for a few years — and much of Prohm’s success came with at least some of the pieces from Hoiberg’s time in Ames.

That didn’t stop Prohm from picking up big recruits. In 2018, Iowa State had Lindell Wigginton, Talen Horton-Tucker, Marial Shayok and Tyrese Haliburton, who were all pieces picked up by Prohm.

During his meetings with Prohm, Pollard said it became clear that there is no short-term fix to two straight years near the bottom of the Big 12.

Searching for new options

Iowa State is now forced to look for a new head coach as rumors start to swirl about who could be an option.

There are many jobs now up for grabs after coaches were let go Monday, and Iowa State will be on the hunt for a head coach with other Midwest team schools like Minnesota and Indiana.

“The most important thing I’ve learned is it’s critical that you hire the right people,” Pollard said. “We see it all the time in our industry. People try to win the press conference. I can assure you, winning the press conference is not gonna be our goal.”

He went on to say that the best person for the job won’t necessarily be someone who has shown they can win at another organization because that doesn’t mean guaranteed success in Ames.

Pollard also said he thinks the search for a head coach will go quickly because he feels it’s Iowa State’s responsibility to find a coach quickly for players that might be transferring outside or inside the program, recruits and current players.

“I look forward to the next time I get to address you,” Pollard said. “‘Cause it most likely will be when we introduce who our new head coach will be.”