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Evansville hires former Iowa basketball coach Todd Lickliter hours after firing Walter McCarty

Chad Lindskog
Evansville Courier & Press
Evansville assistant coach Todd Lickliter talks with players during a time out against Northern Iowa at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2019.

The University of Evansville acted quickly to hire a new men’s basketball head coach after firing Walter McCarty on Tuesday evening.

It’s a familiar face, too.

Todd Lickliter, the Iowa basketball coach for three seasons last decade, has been named head coach of the Purple Aces, effective immediately. He met with the team after 9 p.m. Tuesday evening and was expected to be on the bench for Wednesday’s 6 p.m. home game against Drake.

“We regret to be in this position to be making a change in the middle of the year,” athletics director Mark Spencer said, “but coach Lickliter’s quality as a coach and a human being really makes him a fantastic candidate for being our head coach. I’m so happy to be able to bring him back to Evansville to be part of this community he loves so much."

More:UE fires Walter McCarty as head men's basketball coach

Lickliter, 64, was an assistant on McCarty’s staff last season before he resigned during the summer to recover from serious medical problems he suffered in an accident. He has since returned to full health and recently attended the Aces’ game at IUPUI after Thanksgiving.

There’s continuity between him, the assistant coaches and players, so Evansville hopes he’ll be able to get the team back on track to avoid a wasted season. Evansville (9-10, 0-6 Missouri Valley Conference) has not won since McCarty was placed on leave two days after Christmas.

Lickliter formerly was the head coach at Butler and Iowa, as well as Marian University (an NAIA school in Indianapolis). His head coaching record is 218-154, including a 131-61 mark at Butler, where he led the Bulldogs to a pair of Sweet 16 appearances.

He was the 2007 NABC National Coach of the Year. He also technically has been the Aces’ head coach before: He served as interim head coach in place of McCarty for two games last season.

More:Evansville Aces fired basketball coach Walter McCarty. Here's what we know

Butler coach Todd Lickliter, foreground left, and the Butler bench react during the second half of a first-round NCAA Midwest regional basketball tournament game against Old Dominion on Thursday, March 15, 2007, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

Notable coaches who have played or coached under Lickliter include: Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics head coach), LaVall Jordan (Butler head coach) and Matthew Graves (Xavier assistant). 

Lickliter was already well-acquainted with the UE program from his playing days at Butler in the late 1970s and coaching against the Aces over the next three decades. He said when he was initially hired in 2018 how much he respects the school’s tradition, proximity to talent, educational opportunity for students and facilities at the athletes’ disposal.

“There’s so much to sell,” Lickliter said in April 2018. “We think we can build on what’s been here.”

He's now officially the eighth head coach in program history.