Saturday, July 3, 2004

Duke waits as Coach K ponders offer

College legend Krzyzewski in seclusion weighing move to the NBA Lakers

By Aaron Beard
The Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. - When Duke's season ended with a Final Four loss to Connecticut in April, there was no indication that Mike Krzyzewski might have coached his last game with the Blue Devils.

Now, Duke fans and officials wait anxiously to find out whether the Hall of Famer will leave the elite program he has guided for 802 games over 24 years to become coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I think people are honestly clueless about what's going to happen," Duke senior associate athletics director Chris Kennedy said Friday. "I don't think Mike knows what's going to happen right now."

Krzyzewski met with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on Thursday to discuss the NBA team's coaching vacancy. Lakers spokesman John Black refused to comment on reports that Krzyzewski was offered the job.

Kennedy said he didn't know if Krzyzewski had been offered the job. Krzyzewski has been unavailable for comment since Tuesday. He gave no indication he might leave the program.

"My understanding is that he's in seclusion someplace," Kennedy said. "He needs time and distance."

A secretary stopped reporters who tried to visit the Duke basketball offices, saying there were no coaches there.

Krzyzewski, 57, has led the Blue Devils to three national championships, and the school gave him a lifetime contract three years ago.

The hardwood at Cameron Indoor Stadium is named "Coach K Court," and the grassy plot outside, where students camp out, is known as "Krzyzewskiville."

On Thursday night, after Duke officials acknowledged Krzyzewski was talking with the Lakers, about 100 students and fans gathered there with signs and flags urging the coach to stay. On Friday afternoon, the only activity around Cameron was a youth basketball camp.

"The timetable is Mike's," said John Burness, Duke's senior vice president for public and government relations. "We want to make sure he has time to make the decision that's best for him and his family, and hopefully for Duke and college basketball."

Duke has not publicized the value of Krzyzewski's lifetime contract, but Burness said it would be "perfectly reasonable to assume" the school would modify the contract in an effort to keep the coach.

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