Long Beach State claims NCAA Tournament berth with head coach who was fired 5 days prior

Long Beach State claims NCAA Tournament berth with head coach who was fired 5 days prior

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Long Beach State’s journey to an NCAA Tournament bid truly puts the madness in March. 

The 49ers won the Big West Conference championship game over UC Davis on Saturday, 74-70, to go dancing this March. However, it was an odd tournament berth considering head coach Dan Monson was fired just five days prior. 

Long Beach State made the decision to move on from Monson, but opted for him to remain in place until the end of the season. The 49ers, at 18-14, went into the Big West Conference Tournament with a five-game losing streak, so the thought was they wouldn’t win it all to head into the NCAA Tournament. 

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Head coach Dan Monson of the Long Beach State 49ers holds up the net after the win against the UC Davis Aggies in the championship game of the Big West Conference men’s basketball tournament at The Dollar Loan Center on March 16, 2024, in Henderson, Nevada. (Zak Krill/Getty Images)

That thought backfired, and now Monson will take his 49ers into the tournament hoping to play the Cinderella role every lower seed wants to be this time of year (teams will be seeded on Sunday). 

A statement was announced of Monson’s “mutual separation” with Long Beach State last week. 

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“I am proud of what we have accomplished on and off the court, but it is time for a new voice for the program,” he said in the statement. “I wish nothing but the best for a special university and a tremendous group of student athletes. I am also personally excited for what lies ahead for the Monson family and myself.”

Monson has been in his post for the last 17 seasons with the 49ers, winning the most games of any head coach in university history with 275 victories. This will be his second NCAA Tournament appearance with the win, the last of which came during the 2011-12 season. 

Monson against USC

Head coach Dan Monson of the Long Beach State 49ers looks on from the bench against the USC Trojans at Galen Center on Dec. 14, 2022, in Los Angeles. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

“On behalf of the entire Long Beach State community, I would like to thank Coach Monson for his 17 seasons of service to Beach Athletics and his many contributions to our men’s basketball program,” Executive Director of Athletics Bobby Smitheran said. “As the all-time leader in career victories, he has positively impacted countless student-athletes to strive athletically and academically, and he leaves our program in great shape to continue our pursuit for championships. We wish the best for Dan, Darci, and the rest of his family as his coaching journey continues.”

While Monson’s focus is still making a run with Long Beach State, he doesn’t believe he’ll be done coaching when this season eventually comes to a close. 

“I don’t think this is my last,” he told ESPN. “I love coaching. I love teams. I need a new challenge. It’s life, it’s onto the next chapter.”

Monson against San Diego State

Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson gestures courtside during the San Diego State game, Nov. 14, 2023, at Viejas Arena in San Diego, California. (Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Of course, the NCAA Tournament may be awkward for Long Beach State considering the circumstances. But this last dance with Monson as the 49ers head coach might have some of that magical fairy dust teams are looking for in March.

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