Former Central Michigan basketball coach Ernie Zeigler has been hired as an assistant at the University of Detroit Mercy, a school spokesman confirmed to Central Michigan Life Tuesday.
The school plans to officially announce Zeigler’s hiring Wednesday, but it was first mentioned Tuesday morning during an introductory news conference for Robert Vowels, UDM’s next director of athletics. Zeigler was reportedly in attendance for the news conference.
Zeigler joins a coaching staff led by Ray McCallum and that includes former CMU head coach Jay Smith. Zeigler was fired by CMU in March 2012 after going 75-111 in six seasons.
Since his firing, Zeigler has been noticeably absent from the public. He was paid more than $360,000 as part of a buyout — he had two years remaining on his contract that paid him an annual salary of $175,000 — and opted not to take a coaching job elsewhere last season.
Instead, it appears, Zeigler has been integral in finding a secure school for his son, Trey. Recruited by Ernie, Trey Zeigler — a standout player at Mount Pleasant High School and highly sought after player nationally — made the decision in 2009 to play for his father at CMU.
Trey led the team in scoring during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons but the Chippewas finished with back-to-back 20 losses and proved to be no real threat in the MAC tournament, prompting the firing of Ernie Zeigler. Trey later left the program and transferred to Pittsburgh, while several other players departed for various reasons.
Since then, Trey has had a rough go of it. He came off the bench for most of the season at Pitt, averaging just 4.4 points and 2 rebounds per game, and was suspended for several games after being charged with DUI. He has since transferred to TCU for his senior season.
A graduate of Detroit Cody High School, Ernie Zeigler started his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater from 1990 to 1996. From 1992 to 1997, he also caoched Team Detroit, leading the AAU team to state Final Fours each year and the national quarterfinals in 1994.
He later went on to coach in China and Saudi Arabia before returning to the U.S. in 1999. Since then, he’s been an assistant at Kansas State (1999-2000), Bowling Green (2000-01), Pittsburgh (2001-03) and UCLA (2003-06). He was hired by CMU athletics director Dave Heeke in June 2006 following the abrupt resignation of Jay Smith.
Detroit, who appeared in its second postseason appearance in as many years last season, has been on an upswing under McCallum. He has an 86-80 record over five seasons with the Titans, including a Horizon League tournament championship and NCAA tournament appearance in 2012 — the program’s first since 1999.
Detroit finished 20-13 last season, losing in the semifinals of the Horizon League tournament before earning a bid to the NIT.
The school, however, was hit in the offseason with allegations of an affair involving former UDM athletics director Keri Gaither and assistant coach Derek Thomas. Both abruptly resigned, while assistant coach Carlos Briggs was fired in what he says was retaliation to a whistleblower lawsuit filed against Gaither and the school.
Ray McCallum Jr., McCallum’s son who was named Horizon League Player of the Year last season and lead the team in scoring each of the last three seasons, recently declared for the NBA draft.
Check back to cm-life.com for more on this developing story.
Contact Aaron McMann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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