PROVO — On the floor of the Marriott Center where he won exactly 200 games as BYU’s head basketball coach, an emotional Dave Rose announced Tuesday afternoon that he’s retiring from coaching.
“Thirty-six years. Thirty-six years I’ve been doing this. Twenty-two at BYU, 14 as the head coach. And today’s the day that I’m going to retire," Rose said. "I’ve had a chance to talk with the players and encourage them to move forward and tackle the challenge that’s at hand. But most of all, I’ve had a chance to reflect with my family how lucky I’ve been. I’m 61 years old, I still haven’t worked a day in my life."
Rose cited health issues — he survived a bout with cancer a decade ago — factored into his decision.
“How did this happen and how did it come to this? I’ve had 10 years of what some doctors have said, ‘You’re playing on house money.’ And the house money’s been pretty good to me," he said. "I kind of have three coaching pillars for me. One is my mind, a coaching mind; my body, my physical body, a coaching body; and then what I consider a coaching soul, which is my heart.
"My mind, I fought for years. You get tired, you get frustrated, you get mad, you can’t figure things out, and I’ve always been able to talk my mind back into it’s time to accept the next challenge; let’s get the next team, let’s go," Rose continued. "My body would be tired at times but I could always get myself up and get going and make my body do it. But it’s my coaching soul that has put me here today. I always tell everybody — you can’t trick how you feel. You can pretend, you can ignore it, but you know inside how you feel. And my coaching soul said it was time, time to be done. My heart told me it was time to leave.”
In 14 seasons, Rose attained nearly 350 career victories. He led the Cougars to eight NCAA Tournament bids and one appearance in the Sweet 16.
“I feel like I'm the luckiest guy ever. I won't leave here with any regrets,” he said. “I played in the Final Four. I wanted to get our team to the Final Four. I didn't get us there ... maybe another guy can come in here and get it done. … We had a lot of wins and I hope people had a lot of fun.”
Rose leaves the Cougars having posted a 348-135 (.720) career record. He finishes 23 wins shy of the Cougars’ all-time winningest coach, Stan Watts, who compiled a 371-254 record (.594) in 23 seasons at the helm.
In terms of winning percentage, Rose outperformed predecessors like Frank Arnold (.593), LaDell Andersen (.616), Roger Reid (.664) and Steve Cleveland (.561).
“I had the opportunity to travel around the country on assignment for the (NCAA Tournament) basketball committee the last four years,” said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe. “Everywhere I go, I know one thing — Dave’s peers in college basketball think the world of him. They love him.”
Others reacted to Rose's retirement on social media, like his former player, 2011 national player of the year Jimmer Fredette. Rose was courtside Monday night at Vivint Arena to watch Fredette play with the Phoenix Suns.
"I wanted to show my love and appreciation for coach Rose! He pushed me to be the best player I could possibly be," Fredette wrote. "Trusted me and gave me confidence to be a great player and person. I’ll always love him for that. The best BYU coach ever in my opinion. Thank you so much Coach! Time to work on our golf game together!"
Longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale also shared his thoughts about Rose via social media.
"Wish nothing but the best for @BYUbasketball COACH ROSE in his future. Gave his all as the leader for the Cougars. Also was so COURAGEOUS in his lengthy battle vs cancer. He deserves health & happiness! #Respect
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, whose team is playing in this week's Sweet 16, wrote: “Dave is just a good guy. He and his wife (Cheryl) both are class acts. They have been good for our game. He’s left his mark on that program. I’m sure every kid that has played for him, this is a sad day for them.”
While Rose had been the head coach since 2005, he had been an assistant coach with the program from 1997 to 2005.
In 2017, Rose won his 300th game as BYU’s head coach, tying Bobby Knight and John Thompson for the 25th-fastest to 300 wins in college basketball.
“I’ve always felt like these are all numbers, just numbers on a page. People tell me that they’re at times pretty impressive numbers,” Rose said. “But what I’ll always remember are the players, the relationships that I’ve had with the guys, the coaches. That’s one of the things I’ll really miss."
In Rose's final game in the West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals on March 9, San Diego thumped BYU, 80-57. The Cougars trailed by as many as 44 points in the second half to the No. 7 seed.
BYU lost three of its last four games and finished with a 19-13 record, marking the first time in the Rose era that the Cougars failed to win at least 20 games. It also marked the first time in his tenure that BYU failed to secure a berth in either the NCAA or NIT tournaments. The Cougars haven’t played in the NCAA Tournament since 2015 and they haven’t won a West Coast Conference regular season or WCC Tournament title since joining the league.
A segment of fans accustomed to perennial NCAA Tournament appearances became frustrated with the downward trajectory of the program.
BYU officials say that a national search for the program’s next head coach will begin immediately. Quincy Lewis, an assistant coach at BYU since 2015, is serving as interim head coach.
Last November, on the day that BYU opened the season with a loss at Nevada, Rose signed a contract extension that was to keep him on the sidelines through the 2020-21 campaign.
Days later, the NCAA levied harsh sanctions against BYU after the NCAA reported that guard Nick Emery accepted $12,000 in improper benefits from boosters. As part of the penalty, the NCAA ruled that the program would have to vacate as many as 47 wins over two seasons. BYU, which declared that the university, athletic department and coaching staff had no knowledge of the infractions, is currently appealing the penalty of vacating games.
Rose arrived at BYU in 1997 as an assistant to Steve Cleveland, the year after the school fired Roger Reid. The Cougars had finished with a 1-25 record, the worst in school history. Rose was a big part of resurrecting the program, which reached the NCAA Tournament in 2001.
In 2005, Rose replaced Cleveland as head coach following a 9-21 season. The following year, Rose got the Cougars to the NIT with a 20-9 record. BYU then won three straight Mountain West Conference championships.
The Cougars ended a 17-year, eight-game NCAA Tournament losing streak in 2010 as they beat Florida 99-92 in double overtime.
Then in 2011, BYU enjoyed one of its finest seasons ever, posting a 32-5 record and advancing to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years. The Cougars were led by Fredette.
After that unforgettable 2011 season, Rose was courted by a few high-profile programs, but chose to remain in Provo.
Late in the 2011 campaign, the Cougars were ranked No. 3 in the nation and appeared to be on the cusp of receiving a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, when the school suspended star forward Brandon Davies for violating the honor code. Due to the absence of Davies, Rose had to juggle his lineup but led BYU to tournament wins over Wofford and Gonzaga.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to feel like I felt after we beat Gonzaga to go to the Sweet 16," Rose said. "We fly into the Provo airport and there are 400 to 500 Cougar fans at three in the morning. It’s raining, freezing cold. That’s when I knew that I was at someplace really, really special. People really cared. Within the next 72 hours or so, I had a couple of offers to leave here and coach somewhere else. It’s kind of funny that was your favorite game because it caused the most stress that I’ve ever had in my entire life, trying to figure out who to say yes to and who to say no to.”
Under Rose, Fredette became BYU’s all-time leading scorer with 2,599 points. Four years later, Tyler Haws supplanted Fredette by scoring 2,720 career points.
BYU was part of the First Four of the NCAA Tournament in 2012. The No. 14 seed Cougars rallied from a 25-point deficit to beat Iona, 78-72. Three years later, as a No. 11 seed, BYU squandered a 17-point halftime lead and lost to Ole Miss in the First Four.
The Cougars beat Gonzaga three consecutive seasons in Spokane, including in the 2016-17 season finale, which saw BYU upset the No. 1, undefeated Zags. It marked the Cougars’ first victory over a top-ranked opponent.
During the summer of 2009, Rose was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cancer, the only type of pancreatic cancer that can be successfully treated. Since undergoing emergency surgery to remove the tumor, he has been cancer-free. In the fall of 2010, Rose was asked to speak on behalf of Coaches vs. Cancer to emphasize the importance of federal investment in cancer research, prevention and early detection programs.
“I know he will leave this job with no regrets because he has given it everything he has. He’s left it all out there,” said Rose’s wife, Cheryl. “That’s all he’s ever asked his players to do and that’s what he did. And I’m very proud of him.”
In 2018, Rose won the ESPN Coaches’ Charity Challenge, raising more than $100,000 for the BYU Simmons Center for Cancer Research. Last September, the Simmons Center used those funds to create the David and Cheryl Rose Family Student Cancer Research Endowment, a fellowship for BYU students conducting cancer research.
Before arriving at BYU, Rose was a two-sport athlete at Dixie State College. He returned to his hometown of Houston to play for Guy Lewis and the University of Houston.113 comments on this story
Rose was co-captain of the famous Phi Slama Jama team that included Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The 1983 Houston team was ranked No. 1 and finished national runner-up after losing to North Carolina State on a buzzer-beater.
“I’ve gotten to play, play with so many great players, coached so many great players, so many great teams," Rose said. "That’s probably what I’ll miss the most. I’ll miss the most when we get to the end of June and it’s time to start summer semester and the team moves on and I’ll be on another team. I’ll be on a team with my wife, with Cheryl, with our grandkids, and we’ll make that just as good as we made this.”
Note: Brandon Judd contributed to this story.