Wichita State University is expected to hire Paul Mills as its next men’s basketball head coach, multiple sources told Tulsa media on Tuesday evening. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein was the first to report the news.
The Tulsa World reported Mills had met with his Oral Roberts team and informed them he was accepting the position at Wichita State on Tuesday evening. The Eagle is still working on confirmation of Mills’ hiring from the WSU side.
Mills, who is set to turn 51 in two weeks, just completed his sixth season as head coach at Oral Roberts, where he has compiled a 106-84 record at the private university located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Oral Roberts became just the second No. 15 seed ever to advance to the Sweet 16 in 2021, then Mills helped lead the Golden Eagles back to the NCAA tournament this past season.
The length of the contract and financial details were not immediately available. Details on when Mills will be introduced as the 27th full-time head coach in WSU history are expected to be finalized soon.
Before his time as a head coach at Oral Roberts, Mills spent 14 seasons as an assistant coach at Baylor under Scott Drew. Hiring from Drew’s coaching tree has been incredibly successful for teams recently, as former Baylor assistants Jerome Tang (Kansas State), Grant McCasland (North Texas) and Mills (Oral Roberts) have all had success on their own.
Mills turned heads when his 15th-seeded Oral Roberts team upset Ohio State and Florida to reach the 2021 Sweet 16, then lost by two to Arkansas. It was the furthest NCAA run at Oral Roberts since 1974.
Mills then led Oral Roberts to 30 wins this season, the most in program history in its Division I era. The Golden Eagles were the only team in the country to go undefeated through conference play (18-0, Summit League), also a program first. Oral Roberts was a No. 12 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament but lost 74-51 to Duke in the first round.
Tuesday’s hire concludes an 11-day national search led by WSU athletic director Kevin Saal with the assistance of Parker Executive Search, a national search firm WSU paid a $60,000 fee to help with the process.
Mills replaces Isaac Brown, who was fired on March 11 after missing the postseason for the second straight year. Brown finished with a 48-34 record in three years of work, which included winning the program’s first American Athletic Conference regular season championship and an NCAA tournament at-large berth in 2021. He was fired with three years remaining on his contract, which left WSU with a bill for $4 million to be paid through 2026.
Because Oral Roberts is a private university, it is unclear how much money WSU will need to fork over for a buyout. Mills signed an 8-year contract extension following the 2021 Sweet 16 run and had six years remaining.
This story was originally published March 21, 2023, 5:52 PM.
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