Breaking News: Detroit Mercy Fires McCallum After 8 Seasons

Ray McCallum has been let go as Head Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Detroit Mercy, according to a late Friday afternoon release on the school’s athletics website.

Ray McCallum    Photo courtesy of

McCallum was 130-132 in eight seasons, including 66-72 in Horizon League regular season play. His career record as a college head coach, including his stops at Ball State and Houston, is 300-281.


When McCallum took over prior to the 2008-09 season, he was faced with a true rebuilding job. After finishing 7-23 in his first season, a remarkable turnaround was completed as the Titans went 20-14 the next season.

The Titans two best seasons under McCallum came in the middle of his tenure. The Titans went 22-14 in the 2011-12 campaign, which included a Horizon League Tournament title. This led to Detroit Mercy’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999. In the 2012-13 season, the Titans went 20-13 and 12-4 in the Horizon League. But the Titans lost in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament, which still earned the program its first NIT appearance since 2002. A big reason for Detroit Mercy’s success in these years was the presence of McCallum’s son, Ray McCallum Jr., who became won the Horizon League Player of the Year before departing for the NBA after his junior season.

But the program largely stagnated the last three seasons, finishing no better than sixth in the Horizon League. A 1-5 record versus nearby Oakland University, since they joined the Horizon League, did not help McCallum’s case.

From the press release, Athletics Director Robert Vowels said “After a careful and long review of the entire men’s basketball program, I determined it was necessary to have a change in leadership. I would like to thank coach McCallum for his eight years of service at the University and for all of his efforts.”

The release also stated that assistant coaches Jay Smith and Steve Payne will not return. This leaves former Titan star player and current assistant coach Jermaine Jackson as the only coach not let go.

McCallum finishes as the fourth longest-tenured coach in program history, behind only Perry Watson (1993-2008), Lloyd Brazil (1930-46), and Bob Calihan (1948-69).

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4 Responses to Breaking News: Detroit Mercy Fires McCallum After 8 Seasons

  1. Don Seeko says:

    Coach McCallum could never break mediocrity. Imagine if his Son, Ray Jr, didn’t play for 3 Seasons! He probably would have been let go years ago. McCallum was never known to be a game coach, many believe he brought in very good talent, but they never developed well. He also had discipline problems with players over the years. 8 years is a long time now to be coach. Athletics culture has changed, programs can turn around on a dime. If UDM wants to become a factor they have to make some bold moves.


    • Tim says:

      Yeah, it just seemed like the program hit a standstill and wasn’t going to get much better in the near future. That happens in a lot of other programs too. I don’t think the discipline problems were really his fault though, except that maybe certain punishments could have been greater. Coach McCallum seems like a really nice guy, so it is tough to see him go. But at this stage, the school didn’t have many other options. Now it’s time to see who will be the new head coach.


  2. Don Seeko says:

    Well, Wright State hired South Dakota State’s Head Coach. An experienced Head Coach with notable accomplishments. To me on the surface, he seems very similar to Donlon with added experience with accomplishments.

    Milwaukee hires UM Asst Jordan. Young guy, not a lot of experience in my mind. After having Coach Jeter making the top or near the top of Salaries in the Horizon League, Milwaukee will be saving some money I believe in the near term with this younger hire.

    Valpo hires from within, Asst Lottich. Another Young guy with even less experience than Jordan. Some say they are following the Butler Model in building the momentum as they have been the dominant / consistent team in the Horizon the past few years. I think this may be a mistake for Valpo with Lottich. I just don’t see his experience.

    Now for Detroit Mercy. Since the Titans don’t get real media coverage, it is hard to speculate on who the real candidates are for the job. Many think UM Asst Bacari Alexander. He does have a strong bio as Asst and has been a staple at UM for many years. I just don’t know. I can say with pretty certainty that AD Vowels will hire somebody with significant experience. I say this because of Vowels other hires in the Dept. He hired a softball coach that was very experienced in softball coaching, Coach Conway is known to be a Turnaround Expert for Softball programs at Catholic Universities (Saint Louis Univ and Saint Leo in particular). Vowels hired Coach Scott for the women basketball program. Coach Scott has been an Asst since 2001 including at two other Horizon Schools.

    So, my question is – Will Vowels go the low cost route with an Asst from another program that has minimal experience or Will he go the Higher Cost route with an Asst from another program that has a lot of experience or Will he got the Higher Cost route with a Head Coach from another program?


    • Tim says:

      Thank you for this post Don. Although my articles won’t be as frequent in the off-season, I will still have new content throughout the year. So thanks as always for reading!

      For UDM, ultimately I think the next Head Coach will be Bacari Alexander. If he was ever going to return to his alma mater as head coach, it just seems like now is the time. As much as I hate to mention Michigan football, I bring it up because I think it is a good comparison to their head coaching vacancy last year. Even if there were better qualified coaches available, it made sense for them to hire their current coach. Similarly, UDM’s program has been somewhat down (or at least not up to expected standards) for the better part of the last 13 years. Even though Alexander has never been a head coach, by all accounts he has done a great job at U-M. He also seems friendly and likable. I remember a specific example from 9-10 years ago when I was home from school on break. As dad and I were walking through the hallway after the game, Coach Alexander passed us on the way to the locker room. We just smiled and said “good game.” Coach appreciated the comment and then, probably noting my height, asked if I was a student at UDM. I said no, and that I went to MSU. He responded with a big smile on his face, “Oh, man. I could have recruited you for the scout team!” Even though it was a very brief encounter, I still remember it.

      I know a lot of Titan fans are hoping Jermaine Jackson will be promoted to head coach, but he has only been an assistant for one season and was a very successful high school coach for two years. I hope he stays with the program for awhile though. With Alexander available, I just don’t see them hiring a head coach from another school. Although you mentioned Vowels has a certain track record when hiring, these are unique times for the Men’s basketball program.

      The Lottich hire was surprising. I anticipated Valpo would hire from within because they seem to be a very tight-knit program. I thought Powell might get the job. Others thought Gore, who was an assistant for I think over 10 years.

      The Wright State hire only surprised me because I thought a person who was head coach at a program for 21 years, would essentially be there for life. But since they did get Nagy, Raiders fans should be thrilled.

      Milwaukee has some talent coming back, so Jordan will be expected to do pretty well from the start. If he does a good job and the Butler job ever opens up, Panthers fans need to be aware that he would leave for that.


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