Lon Kruger On Leaving Alma Mater KSU For Florida: ‘Certainly Money Is Always A Factor’


Lon Kruger, in a sit down with The Seth Davis Show, discussed his coaching tenure at Kansas State, and why he left his alma mater to coach the Florida Gators.


Boasting nearly 600 collegiate wins spread across six programs, Lon Kruger has found success at every NCAA program he’s helmed. And while certainly not a missed opportunity, it’s his second head job on the sidelines that might be the most befuddling.

Fresh off a 20-win season with UTPA, Kruger was called home to Kansas State in 1986. A former Wildcats point guard and two-time Big Eight Player of the Year, it was the position that, in today’s modern climate would seemingly be a lifetime appointment. However, by his own admission, Kruger may not have fully grasped the magnitude of coaching his alma mater.

“I got the job at Kansas State at 33, and probably didn’t fully appreciate what was happening at that point: the opportunity to be at your alma mater,” Kruger told The Seth Davis Show. “On the other hand, the losing there probably hurt way more than anywhere else because I think I felt maybe a responsibility. Felt more ownership.”

Kruger would become the first coach to lead Kansas State to four consecutive NCAA Tournament berths. However, as tends to happen in business, another, and at the time better, monetary offer came along. The Florida Gators, in need of a new coach, loosened the purse strings in order to lure Kruger away from the Little Apple.

“Certainly money is always a factor, and Florida came along. Maybe the timing was right from a Florida perspective.”

As it turned out, the timing could not have been better for both parties. On probation thanks to former head coach Norm Sloan, Florida needed a clean slate. Kruger entered, pulled the program out of the mire, injected basketball life into a football school – guiding the Gators to the program’s first ever Final Four in 1994 – and officially staked his claim as a coach who could turn around fledgling programs in short order.

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