Report: Cheaney leaving position for assistant coaching job at St. Louis

Calbert Cheaney, Indiana’s director of operations and all-time leading scorer, has accepted a position as an assistant coach at St. Louis under former IU assistant Jim Crews.

“Calbert played an invaluable role in the success we enjoyed the last two years and we are excited for what the future holds for him and his family,” IU coach Tom Crean said in a press release. “He brought a great deal to us and in turn, I think he gained valuable insight into the profession during his time at IU. He has come to have a strong desire to return to the floor coaching and can do so with someone he trusts and respects in Jim Crews.  He will do an outstanding job and there is no doubt in my mind that he has a tremendous future coaching at any level.”

Cheaney has a long-standing relationship with Crews. Crews was the head coach at Evansville from 1985-2002 and Cheaney grew up in Evansville and played at Evansville-Harrison High School. Crews recruited Cheaney before he enrolled at Indiana in 1990. This position came open when St. Louis assistant Jim Whitesell left for St. John’s on Aug. 6.

Cheaney was a three-time All-American at Indiana and the Big Ten MVP and National Player of the Year in 1993. He left Indiana as the all-time leading scorer in not only Indiana but Big Ten history with 2,613 points.

Cheaney spent 13 years in the NBA before retiring and taking a job with the Golden State Warriors in the front office as a special assistant in 2009-10. He then spent a year as an assistant coach with the Warriors under former Indiana great Keith Smart before joining the Hoosiers as the director of basketball operations — a non-coaching position — in 2011.

Cheaney had the option to move up to take an assistant coaching job with the Hoosiers before the 2012-13 season when then-assistant Bennie Seltzer left for Samford, but opted to stay in the director of operations spot. The Hoosiers hired Kenny Johnson to fill that position. Cheaney said at the time he wasn’t quite ready to make the move, but apparently felt more comfortable with the responsibilities of an assistant a year later.

Indiana is likely to look outside the program for Cheaney’s replacement.



  1. Hmmm. Don’t know what to make of this. On one hand congratulations to Calbert. On the other, why didn’t he become an asst. at IU last year when he had the chance? Going to coach with Crews at St. Louis makes me think it fits his style better and/or wants to learn from a coach he thinks is better than his current coach.

  2. Honest question here: can someone please explain the difference between a director of ops and an assistant coach? To me, dir of ops just sounds more prestigious (especially given the programs). I assume that Cheaney did most of the off-court activities such as coordinating travel, lodging, schedules and the like. Coaches are involved more directly with player development and recruiting, no? But what is the pecking order? Is an asst coach a step up rather than a lateral move or demotion? Forgive me for my ignorance. I have to assume leaving a premiere program to for a mid-major assistant gig is some sort of personal advancement for Calbert, but I just don’t fully understand how it all works.

  3. Punjab, you’re on the right track. While I’m sure there are slight differences between responsibilities at each program, you have the gist of it.

    The primary difference is that Dir. of Ops cannot recruit or be involved in on-court player development. The extent of their coaching is in evaluation and on the bench during games.

    Meanwhile, assistants at major D1 programs have huge travel responsibilities, especially in the off-season.

    I think Calbert made it pretty clear last year that he didn’t want to spend that time away from his young family. He had money and the flexibility to turn down the job, and had spent 2 decades on the road between his NBA playing and coaching careers.

  4. Punjab,
    Your notions are correct. Director of ops has a lot of off-the court duties, but they can’t recruit and their on-court duties are extremely limited. In practice, they can do things like officiate scrimmages, but they can’t do much hands-on teaching. Graduate managers have more responsibility on the floor. So yes, it is a promotion. Even last year when he didn’t take the IU assistant job, he gave the indication that it was a matter of timing, not so much a matter of the job. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to Indiana, and I know Crean would take him back if he gets an opening.

  5. Coach Crean hired Calbert Cheaney. Great move to bring in a GREAT Hoosier.

    Cheaney helped the program and learned. Perfect. Good on Coach Crean.

    Calbert is leaving now to go work with the guy who recruited him to IU. In a role where he will be in line to be head coach soon (I do not think Crews went to ST.L.U thinking he would retire 20 years from now as head coach.) Good on Calbert. Good on Coach Crean. Good on IU. Good on Bob Knight. The IU coaching tree continues to expand.

    Wish Calbert nothing but the best. I will (for the first time) follow STLU. He was a GREAT Hoosier when he was here. He has been a GREAT Hoosier ever since. That wont change.

  6. By the way, I’ll be here to greet you in St Louis, Calbert. Congratulations. I’m becoming more and more a Billiken fan all the time.

  7. WestCoast, Crews recruited Calbert when he was the head coach at Evansville. He was not an IU assistant when Cal was there. At any rate, this is a logical move by Cal so that he can actually coach and recruit. It would not be a surprise to see him in B-town again someday in the future. Some others on other comment boards are being ridiculous in thinking this move is because Cal is discontented with the IU program and Coach Crean, but I’m sure it all has to do with timing, a renewed vigor to travel and be more hands-on with players, and Cal’s relationship with Crews. Now, can Cal help lure some Indiana talent to St. Louis? Since it is at a lower level than IU there won’t be competition for the best players, but they sure will have the ability to bring in top guys from the E-ville area and players along the line of a Mack Mercer, Alex Etherington, or Jared Drews (ooops…too soon?).

  8. Congrats Calbert. You’ve ALWAYS been a class act, as a student-athlete, as a pro and in your capacity as Dir. of Basketball Ops @ IU. Best of luck…unless SLU plays IU.

  9. No doubt Calbert’s close ties with Crews led to his decision now that he seems ready to be an assistant coach and travel. Plus, Crews may not stay long in the coaching ranks anyway. So he could more easily move up the ranks. Regardless, Calbert will be missed I’m sure. But, being a former native of St. Louis, I’m sure he will also miss living in Bloomington. It’s a great place to live even in retirement.

  10. Dustin any idea on who gets the Director of Operations job? I have a candidate who would be nearly as popular if not more than CC. How about Damon Bailey? He coached high school and played at IU. He lives in area. Just a thought. Curious of your thoughts?

  11. OSD,
    I think he’d certainly qualified and I can’t imagine that if he wanted to do it, Crean would turn down the idea. That being said, just from reading about Bailey, I never got the impression that he’d want a gig like this. Would put him back in the limelight and require a lot of time away from home. I think high school coaching is more his speed. But I could be wrong. Wouldn’t rule it out.

  12. Dustin all good points on your behalf. It was just the other day someone on a blog mentioned he was operating a furniture store now. While that may provide him with the funds he needs and all but wondered if he would like the spot light again. Greg Graham also might be a worthy candidate. He might have more actual coaching experience than Damon.

    Anyway thanks again Dustin for answering an OSD’s question.

  13. It’s important for IU to keep its roots to the main trunk of the coaching tree planted by Bob Knight. It may even create an assist to deal with the defensive issues we faced and must address this year, especially with a new recruiting class. It may also even open up an opportunity for IU to deepen its connections to northern and northwest Indiana.

    BTW, could someone do a “where are they now” review of former IU players (especially those from the Knight Era) like Greg Graham, Jim Thomas, Green, Laskowski, etc who are still involved in basketball, especially at the college and high school level. (Adding to the previous, I would not discount others like Cheney who are looking for a post-professional playing career). Without regard to how some may feel about RMK for whatever reason emotionally darkens their outlook; it would be good for Indiana to rely on former RMK disciples who, we know, were solidly taught how to play the game, develop basic fundamentals, and leverage their learned strategic and tactical understanding from an era that focused on year-in and year-out well coached team basketball.

  14. OSD was putting out names for replacing CC; I suggest Stew Robinson. was on Staff at Texas Tech with Coach Knight.Stayed on Pat’s staff then moved with him to Houston School.He knows Indiana HS BBall and from his moves has recruited different areas of country

  15. My preference would be Mike Lewis presently an assistant at Butler. He is hard nosed and had the backbone to stand up to RMK on occasion. As a GA he spent 2 years with Knight at TT and was an award winning assistant with recruiting credentials in the Ohio Valley conference for Eastern Illinois.

  16. Jimmy Crews needed someone to teach his players how to dribble w/ their left hand because he sure didn’t do it his 4 years at IU.

  17. considering no one dribbled with their off-hand until well after Bob Cousy retired that probably wasn’t a very big deal….

    unless he was left-handed, at which point I would wonder how he made the roster at all.

  18. Anyone think Dane Fife would consider the position or would that be too big of a step down from an assistant at MSU? Dave was one of my favorite players and was a beast on defense.

  19. That’s way too big of a step down, 1992. He was very much interested in the position when Steve McClain was hired, but after being a head coach and an assistant at a major program, he’s not going to take an Ops job. That’s a major, major pay cut.

  20. And Clarion, kind of the same thing with Lewis. Granted, it’s a step up in prestige of program, but I don’t think he’d leave an assistants job for an Ops job. Would leave for an assistant’s job at IU, though.

  21. I can’t remember if guys like Lewis and Fife played any pro ball. Just wondering what the average shelf-life is for the non-NBA guys who know they’re probably not going to make it very far playing. I know every situation is different, but how long can we expect guys like Jordy to slog it out in obscure overseas locations before they decide to come home and throw their hat in the coaching ring?

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