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M Head Cage Job -- Strack Quits To Accept New Post

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M Head Cage Job

Strack Quits To Accept New Post

By Bill Bullard

John Orr, a Wolverine assistant coach for the past season, is expected to be appointed head basketball coach tomorrow morning to replace Dave Strack who submitted his resignation yesterday.

Strack, 45, was named last night to the newly created post of business manager of athletics by the University’s Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics. In his new job. Strack will be in charge of all business operations of the athletic department.

Sports Information Director Will Perry said this morning that one or more assistant coaches will be announced at the same time. Orr’s elevation would leave one assistant’s job open. Another might be open if Dick Honig, an interim assistant basketball coach for two years, goes back to full-time duty as assistant baseball coach. George Pomey is the other cage assistant.

There is speculation that Athletic Director Don Canham will name at least one Negro to a vacant post. Several Detroit-area Negro coaches, including Fred Snowden of Detroit Northwestern and Will Robinson of Detroit Pershing, have been mentioned as possibilities.

One of the first things Canham did after taking over from the retiring Fritz Crisler on July 1 was to name the first Negro coach in Michigan’s history. Ken Burnley became an assistant track coach.

The 40-year-old Orr became Strack’s assistant before last season after four years as head coach at Massachusetts and five years as an assistant coach at Wisconsin. Orr confirmed last night that he was interested in the job but declined to comment further because, “Nothing has been formalized as yet.” Strack hit the heights of the collegiate basketball world with his nationally-ranked teams of several years ago. He was named UPI “Coach of the Year” in 1965 when his team -- Cazzie Russell, the late Bill Buntin, Oliver Darden, Larry Tregoning, and George Pomey -- finished as runnerup to national champion UCLA.

“It was a tough decision to leave coaching,” Strack said. “Coaching is a wonderful profession and I have loved every minute of it. The possibility crossed my mind that I might accept the business post and remain as basketball coach for just one more year.

“But in all fairness to my successor, to the coaching job, and to the business job, I decided against it. I don’t think lame duck coaches are a very good thing.”

Strack was appointed head coach in 1960 and quickly began the rebuilding program that resulted in three straight Big Ten championships from 1964-66. The 1967 squad plummeted into the conference cellar and last season was also a losing one for the Wolverines.

Strack’s thoughts about possibly staying on for one more year are probably related to the strong showing of last year’s team at the end of the season. Michigan won its last four games and defeated Iowa at Iowa City in the season finale to drop the Hawkeyes into a tie for the conference title. Iowa then lost a playoff to Ohio State that determined the Big Ten’s entrant in the NCAA Tournament.

All of the key members of last year’s Michigan team are returning with the exception of Captain Jim Pitts.

However, other aspects of Michigan’s basketball future are not as promising. In the recruiting wars this spring, Strack and Orr lost highly touted prospects Ralph Simpson of Pershing and Ron Gutkowski of Detroit Catholic Central to Michigan State.

Strack’s record for eight seasons was 113-89. In the three Big Ten championship seasons the team's mark was 65-17 overall and 35-7 in the conference.

A three-year starter at Michigan, Strack was captain of the 1946 team. He served as assistant coach under Ernie McCoy and Bill Perigo for 11 years before taking the head coaching job at Idaho. After one year, he returned to his alma mater as head coach.

"I’ve been fortunate to have had talented players, who have brought great success to Michigan,” Strack said. “Now I’m looking forward to the business operations which should prove as rewarding as my 20 years as a coach.”

Strack has prepared for the new post. He earned a master’s degree in business administration and as a young assistant coach helped ticket manager Don Weir with some of the ticket selling and business concerns of the athletic department.


Dave Strack, who resigned as Michigan basketball coach, takes a “time-out” to relax before assuming his duties as business manager of the athletic department. Strack’s teams provided some of the greatest moments in Wolverine sports history as the trophy behind him testifies.