TAMPA — The University of Tampa has hired Linc Darner, whose glistening resume includes a Division II national title at Lakeland’s Florida Southern College, as its new men’s basketball coach.
Darner, 52, formally was introduced Monday inside the Martinez Athletics Center. He replaces 80-year-old Richard Schmidt, who retired in April after a 40-season tenure at UT that included 714 wins, eight Sunshine State Conference regular season titles and 14 Division II NCAA tournament berths.
The vacancy attracted inquiries from roughly 120 potential candidates, athletic director Larry Marfise said.
“I’m not going to do it for 40 years, I know that,” Darner said with a laugh. “And for (Schmidt) to stay at one place for 40 years says a lot about him and what he was able to accomplish here and everything.
“You dream of wanting to get to as many wins as he did. I’m hoping maybe I can get close, but I just want to have great success while I’m here, get the program to where we’re competing at the top of the league and competing every year to be in the NCAA Tournament and have a chance to make a run at it all.”
An Indiana native and 3-point sharpshooter on Purdue’s 1993-94 squad that won the Big Ten title and reached the Elite Eight, Darner has posted winning seasons in 15 of his 18 seasons as a college head coach, amassing a 385-197 overall record.
Thirteen seasons have been at the Division II level, but the last five (2015-20) were at Division I Green Bay, where he amassed a 92-80 mark and led his inaugural Phoenix team to the NCAA Tournament.
Darner’s greatest success came at Florida Southern, where he finished 219-72 in nine seasons (2006-15), culminating with a 36-1 record and national title in 2015. After his first Mocs team won only eight games, each of the next eight won at least 20.
“I was in the league for nine years, and I always thought that the University of Tampa was a great, great job,” said Darner, who will retain longtime Schmidt assistant Justin Pecka on the Spartans staff.
“(The program) competed (and) won. ... That’s what I want to be able to do. I want to be able to compete somewhere where year-in and year-out, you have the chance to win a national championship, and that’s my goal.”
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