Originally published June 13, 2012 at 05:39p.m., updated June 14, 2012 at 12:00a.m.

Doc Sadler officially named director of basketball operations for KU men’s basketball

Doc Sadler, former Nebraska head coach, laughs next to Kansas guard Travis Releford as they watch the final minutes of the campers' basketball game agains the counselors on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at the Horejsi Center. Sadler is expected to take the director of basketball operations job.

Doc Sadler, former Nebraska head coach, laughs next to Kansas guard Travis Releford as they watch the final minutes of the campers' basketball game agains the counselors on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at the Horejsi Center. Sadler is expected to take the director of basketball operations job.


Doc Sadler says he’s going to enjoy the Allen Fieldhouse experience a lot more as a member of the home team’s basketball staff than he did as a visitor.

“I promise you the bench on that (northwest) end is a heck of a lot better than the one I’ve been on. I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I know the view will be a lot better on that end,” former Nebraska coach Sadler joked to the Journal-World on Wednesday after officially being named KU’s director of basketball operations. “To have this opportunity is unbelievable, kind of like a dream come true. I hope to not wake up.”

Sadler’s five Nebraska teams from 2007-11 went 0-5 in the fieldhouse, losing to KU by 3, 11, 17, 35 and 46 points. NU didn’t play KU last season — Sadler’s sixth and final year in Lincoln — following the Huskers’ move from the Big 12 to the Big 10.

“It’s unbelievable,” Sadler said of joining (Bill) Self’s KU staff. “It seems like two or three times I’ve talked to coach Self about working for him, and it never seemed to work out. I appreciate the opportunity he’s given me. He has such a great staff. Anything I can do to make those guys’ jobs easier is what I want to do. I’ll do whatever I can to help those guys out.“

Sadler replaces Barry Hinson, who served in the director of basketball operations position for two seasons before taking over as head coach at Southern Illinois in April.

“I’ve known Doc for 25 years and have certainly followed his career. Watching his career at UTEP (head coach for two years) and seeing and competing against him when he was at Nebraska sold me on his ability for him to come in here and make us better,” Self said.

“Very few programs in the country have the experience that our staff will have with Joe (Dooley), Kurtis (Townsend), Norm (Roberts) and now adding Doc into the mix,” Self added. “We lost two great coaches this past year due to staff turnover — Danny (Manning) getting the job at Tulsa and Barry (Hinson) getting the job at Southern Illinois. We replace them with Norm Roberts, who is a terrific coach and recruiter and was a head coach at St. John’s for six years, and Doc Sadler, who has done just about everything and has been a head Division I coach for eight years. I’m excited. My batteries are charged, and I know he’s ready to get to work July 1.”

Sadler, who has been in Lawrence all week, first interviewing for the job, then observing Self’s basketball camp, went 101-89 in six seasons at NU. His Huskers advanced to the NIT in 2008, 2009 and 2011. His 2009 team finished Big 12 play with an 8-8 league record, the Huskers’ best conference mark in a decade, and his 2008 team posted a 20-13 record, giving NU its first 20-win season since 1999. Overall, at NU Sadler had eight wins against ranked squads in six years.

Prior to Nebraska, Sadler spent two seasons as the head coach at UTEP, where he compiled a 48-18 record: 27-8 in 2005 and 21-10 in 2006. His 27 wins in 2005 rank ninth on the NCAA list for first-year head coaches. 

Sadler’s first head coaching stint was at Arkansas-Fort Smith (1998-99 through 2002-03). He has a career coaching record of 269-146 in 13 seasons, including a Division I record of 149-107 in eight seasons.

A native of Greenwood, Ark., Sadler served one season as a high school coach, guiding County Line High to a 38-7 record.

“This is an unbelievable opportunity to have a chance to get back into college basketball,” Sadler said. “When making decisions, I really thought I would sit out this year (perhaps working in TV), but when this came along I don’t think anyone would ever pass it up. I am thankful to coach Self in giving me this opportunity. To be part of a program such as Kansas is unbelievable,” added Sadler, who also worked as an assistant at Arkansas (1982-85), Lamar (1985-86), Houston (1986), Chicago State (1987-88), Texas Tech (1991-94), Arizona State (1994-97) and UTEP (2003-04).

He met Self when he was coaching at Fort Smith and Self at Oklahoma State.

“We had some players he recruited,” Sadler said. “We were two finalists for the Oral Roberts (head coaching) job. I was at Texas Tech and he got the job. We talked several times and developed a friendship. We know all the same people. I’ve gotten to know his family. That’s been neat. I’ve known Norm since he was at Oral Roberts. Kurtis ... I thought I had him hired at UTEP. And coach Dooley I’ve known as well. There’s not a better staff.”

Sadler and his wife, Tonya, who is also a native of Greenwood, Ark., have two sons, Landon and Matthew. The plans right now are for his family to remain in Lincoln.

“I told my wife I feel like I’m going to college,” Sadler said with a laugh.

Asked when he wants to be a head coach again, he said: “I am a coach. But I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about doing the best job I can here.”


fikeasaurus 1 year, 10 months ago

I really like this hire. HCBS obviously recoginizes those who know the game. Although Doc took some beat downs while at NU, he always had a game plan and was passionate about his work. He won't be with KU long because he is a good coach and capable of moving on. A great mind in the program short term. If he stays longer, even better. Welcome aboard Doc Sadler.


Keith Kienzle 1 year, 10 months ago

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!


Tony Bushard 1 year, 10 months ago

Really happy with this hire. I live in Lincoln and the day after his last big loss, one reporter asked him--both parties knowing that it was matter of days if not hours before Doc would be fired--what he though his next move would be and he said (roughly) "Well, I'll wake up tomorrow and take my kids to school and consider myself luckier than a lot of the rest of the world." I've always been impressed with those remarks, admired his class following the press conference, and hope he has nothing but success at KU.


Husker83Hoops 1 year, 10 months ago

As a Nebraska Basketball fan, I can assure you won't be disappointed with the hire. Doc is one of the classiest, genuine, down-to-earth individuals I've been around.He will bring an outstanding work-ethic to Lawrence and you guys will love his personality. Great hire for KU!


hawksfanatic 1 year, 10 months ago

Doc is a great hire. Welcome to KU, Doc. Go, Jayhawks!


James Kirk 1 year, 10 months ago

How does going 101-89, in basketball, at Nebraska get you fired? I do think he is a fine coach and will be a great addition to the staff. Welcome to Kansas, Doc.


jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Nebraska is going to be a doormat in the Big Ten football and basketball very soon.

The ghost of Bob Devaney must be reeling.

Devaney always understood who they were and what they were.

Dr. Tom?

He got on the gravy train and he kept it going, but he apparently never understood, how they got there.


jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Director of Basketball Opps, or assistant coach?

If Dalk Sadler wanted to stay on the staff for x number of years and recruit, then he would have been hired as an assistant.

But Dalk Sadler probably wanted to jump to the next job without such a commitment, so Self made him Director of Basketball Opps.

Using these guys as Directors of Basketball Opps also has this benefit: guys that have been fired after a long struggle often need a break to recharge their batteries. An assistant coach for Bill Self probably works incredibly long hours and has to take the heat from Self when strategy, tactics, or recruiting problems occur. Being Director of Basketball Opps lets them out of the pressure cooker for a couple of years, so they will be refreshed when they return to the sidelines as head coaches, or even as full time assistants.


Joe Ross 1 year, 10 months ago

File this one under "The Kansas-Nebraska Act". I went to three games in Lincoln at the Devaney center during Doc Sadler's tenure there, and I will tell you the guy had their gym rockin'. He did a lot with lower-level talent, and he's a scrappy kind of coach that is very knowledgeable about the game of basketball. I would loved to have seen him on the bench as an assistant coach because I think Docs strength is directly with the players, but I won't argue with the genius that is Bill Self. No matter how you slice it up, this is a homerun hire.


omng392 1 year, 10 months ago

Great leader aren't affraid to surrond themselves with great talent. Great hire HCBS!!


William Blake 1 year, 10 months ago

What's up, Doc?

Had to be the first to do that....

I'd say your new job as a Jayhawk is about as up as it gets!

Welcome aboard!

RCJH! (better memorize that acronym)


jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Travis and Dalk Sadler.

Common foreheads.


jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Rock Chalk, Dalk.

Self is amazing.

He keeps finding ways to help people with the system.

Rock Chalk, Bill.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 10 months ago

I will be honest with all of you...that is the first photo of Doc Sandler that I have ever seen him smiling. It must be great not to be down by 30 with three minutes left in the first half!!


woodscolt 1 year, 10 months ago

Classy person and great coach. He had difficulty recruiting at Nebraska but did very well coaching what he had to work with. Great addition to Bill's staff, however, I hope Doc finds another head coaching job. Can't hurt his resume to spend a little time on Self's staff.


KemDooKU 1 year, 10 months ago

Can't go wrong with Doc. - nice one Self.... You the man!


IrishCharlie 1 year, 10 months ago

Sadler and his wife, Tonya, who is also a native of Greenwood, Ark., have two sons, Landon and Matthew.

OH OH !!!!!!!!!!!!


illuminatironin 1 year, 10 months ago

Glad to have you Doc! I always thought you did a good job at Nebraska.


SarasotaJHawk 1 year, 10 months ago

Home Run! We win! Way to go Coach Self


Mr_C 1 year, 10 months ago

Somebody please, get this guy a blue shirt!


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

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justinryman 1 year, 10 months ago

Living in Nebraska, I was liked the Doc hire for UNL years back, then I wondered why.

Then I got a chance to meet him and well I got it. He is honest, he knows the game. He knows kids. Unfortunately he was trying to recruit kids to a University that didn't care about basketball.

Sure they built a new practice facility and offices, it was needed, their old offices were in the basement of the Devaney Sports Center. Sure when you build a new facility it better be tops in the country. They also get a new arena, that doesn't automatically equate to wins.

Doc will be a very good fit into Coach Self's program and for the University of Kansas. Plus with his ties to Texas, you just never know.

I like this hire, can't wait for November to roll around and see what this team does with the momentum of the 2011-12 season.


Steve Williams 1 year, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


ahpersecoachingexperience 1 year, 10 months ago

Any word on if/when his sons will be walking on?


midwest_muser 1 year, 10 months ago

From Nebraska to about going from the outhouse to the penthouse..


Phil Perry 1 year, 10 months ago

Glad to have Doc on the staff but he should be a head coach.


LAJayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

Welcome to the family.

Rock Chalk, Doc.


Byrd313 1 year, 10 months ago

Love this hire. I was always impressed with Doc. His teams played hard and didn't back down. Welcome to the best place on Earth Doc. Glad to have you!!


slantrox 1 year, 10 months ago

One of the things that I am most impressed with Doc is the fact the guy could be a tremendous role model for today's youth. This is a guy that didn't play college basketball and worked his tail off earning squat for 20 years in every -berg or -ville along the way. Finally he gets some shots at his dream and makes the most of them and in the end has made a nice life for him and his family! This is the true American Story, nothing handed to him that he did dig and claw to achieve. Nebraska is a tough place to coach Basketball and he did it better than many before him there!

Young people out there take note, that you don't have to have everything handed to you coming out of mommy and daddy's basement! Go out and do the dirty work necessary to learn about life while keeping your eye on your dreams!

Congrats to Doc and to all those that work their tails off not knowing if the dream will ever happen, but with the perseverance to keep working toward goals. Coach, you will be a head coach again and the experience you will learn at KU will just be another of those unforeseen, but capitalized upon forks in the road!


squintseugene1 1 year, 10 months ago

Love the hire cant wait the see him sitting on the KU bench


conlawgrad 1 year, 10 months ago

I love Doc! I think he did a great job at Nebraska where basketball is not the prominent sport and I think he got hosed there. Glad to have him here!


Tricky Gnosis 1 year, 10 months ago

Really good hire. Exciting news.


jhawk613 1 year, 10 months ago

Doc is a great X's and O's guy and will be a major piece in practices. Having another Head Coach (along with Norm) to bounce ideas off will be great for Coach Self.

I think this hire is great.


Eride 1 year, 10 months ago

This is a great hire. I always thought he was a very good coach who did the best with what he was given. Glad to have him be a part of the KU staff.


Pitthawk34 1 year, 10 months ago

Perfect hire. Class guy with a personality.


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