UW-Milwaukee has found its next men’s basketball head coach, turning to Northwestern top assistant Patrick Baldwin to lead a Panthers program that has been in turmoil the past few years.
Milwaukee announced the news Tuesday afternoon, after multiple outlets had reported the hiring. According to ESPN, Baldwin and the school agreed to terms on a five-year contract. Baldwin replaces LaVall Jordan, who left the Panthers last week to take the head coaching job at Butler, his alma mater. Jordan took over after longtime coach Rob Jeter was fired in March of 2016, spending only one season in Milwaukee and going 11-24 overall.
"We are proud to have Patrick join the UW-Milwaukee family," UWM Chancellor Mark Mone said in a statement. "His deep commitment to have our student-athletes succeed in the classroom as well as on the court reflects the values of Milwaukee basketball. I know he will also play an important role in helping to connect our university to the community."
Baldwin, who was a finalist for the Panthers’ job last year, now becomes their third head coach in 27 months. Like Jordan, he was a highly respected lead assistant at a Big Ten program, coming to Milwaukee from a Northwestern team that, under head man Chris Collins, has emerged as an up-and-coming conference contender.
The Wildcats went 24-12 last season and made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, advancing to the second round, where they lost to No. 1 seed Gonzaga. That success certainly burnished Baldwin’s resume for this iteration of application.
Baldwin, a Northwestern alum, played for the Wildcats from 1990 to '94 and was one of the best the program has ever had. He won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 1994 and ranks first in school history in steals, second all-time in assists and 20th in points. His wife Shawn is a former Northwestern volleyball player, and the couple has four children, including Patrick Baldwin Jr., a Chicago high school player who's one of the top freshmen in the country.
"The entire Wildcats community is thrilled for Pat Baldwin, an outstanding representative of our university," said Northwestern Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Jim Phillips. "He was an exceptional student-athlete, and has been an incredible mentor for our young men during his tenure on the men's basketball staff."
Baldwin, a native of Leavenworth, Kan., got his coaching start at Division II Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Mo.) in 2001. He then coached from 2002 to '04 at UW-Green Bay, before spending the next seven years as an assistant at Loyola Chicago, a Horizon League member like Milwaukee, ultimately being promoted to associate head coach in 2010. Following two seasons at Missouri State, Baldwin returned to Evanston, Ill., as a member of Collins’ coaching staff, working primarily with the Wildcats’ guards the past four years.
"Patrick has played a major role in the resurgence of a successful program and is ready to take the next step as a head coach," said Milwaukee Director of Athletics Amanda Braun. "We are very happy that step will be taken at UWM and as a Panther. He is very familiar with the Horizon League and the Midwest and will continue to build on the foundation we have put in place. I am thrilled to welcome Patrick, his wife, Shawn, and their children to the Milwaukee program."
Baldwin becomes the seventh head coach since Milwaukee moved to Division 1 in 1990.
"I want to thank Amanda Braun and Chancellor Mone for affording me the opportunity and honor to serve as the head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee," Baldwin said. "I am extremely excited about this opportunity to lead a program that has a great tradition of winning, resources to help facilitate our ascension in the Horizon League and commitment from the entire administration.
"Our main goal and focus is to compete and win championships. I can't wait to get started with our current roster of student-athletes and work toward achieving great success both on and off the court."
During Baldwin’s time at UW-Green Bay, Braun worked there, as well, and the two no doubt got to know each other better last year during the Panthers’ hiring process. This will be Baldwin’s first head coaching position, and if his contract is indeed for five years, that would match the length of Jordan’s deal, which paid him $350,000 annually and had a buyout clause that was activated when he left for Butler.
The Panthers men’s basketball team has struggled – on-court and in public – the last few years. Jeter’s firing prompted criticism and led to an exodus of staff and transferring players, while rumors arose that the athletic department had hamstrung the program.
Milwaukee finished the 2016-17 season at 11-24, including a last-place 4-14 Horizon League record, before going on a surprising run to the championship game of the conference tournament. There was more upheaval a couple of months ago, when the school engaged in discussions aobut moving from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley Conference.
"I'd like to thank the Northwestern University community under the leadership of President Morty Schapiro, vice president for athletics & recreation Jim Phillips and his staff, head coach Chris Collins, the staff and players for four unbelievable years," Baldwin said. "I was able to come back to my alma mater and be a part of a tremendous transformation in the men's basketball program, culminating in a dance in the NCAA tournament. Thank you for all of the great memories."
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.