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Coach K Discusses the Importance of Duke's Succession Plan

Krzyzewski made sure Duke coaching tree followed military plan of succession

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said it was “very important” for Duke to have a clear plan to transition the program to Jon Scheyer when he announced his retirement.

“Especially with the start of recruiting,” he said. “Recruiting’s going on starting now.”

Krzyzewski said he wanted “complete transparency and clarity into the future for this year and after.”

The idea of a clear, organized transition of power came from his time at West Point.

“In the service you are constantly looking at succession,” he said. “When you take over for somebody in command, that person helps you. Continuity is what it’s called—continuity of excellence. That has a lot to do with succession.”

After he decided it was time to retire, Krzyzewski began looking at the plan of succession.

“Looking at this, really, the implementation of the decision has a lot to do with succession,” he said. “There’s a greater chance of continuity. If you do not have anybody that can take command, you’re in trouble. We do (have someone). We do.”

After spending 40 years building up excellence at Duke, Krzyzewski didn’t want his departure to endanger that.

“That was one of the things I was concerned about,” he said. “I don’t want everything to end when I stop coaching. I want it to continue. The keyword is succession. It’s not done often. In the military, it’s done all the time.”

When Krzyzewski stepped down from coaching the U.S. team, he and Gregg Popovich, who he described as “an Air Force guy” worked on the succession. “Pop was named coach,” he said. “He and I spent time getting ready for Rio. We understood that’s how you do it. So to me it was plain as day. That’s what you do.”