Coach Gets Fired, Makes NCAA Tournament Days Later

Dan Monson of Long Beach State is in a strange spot
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2024 8:03 AM CDT
Updated Mar 23, 2024 6:00 AM CDT
Six Days After Getting Fired, Coach Makes NCAA Tourney
Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson helps cut the net in celebration of his team winning the Big West Conference men's tournament March 16, 2024, in Henderson, Nevada.   (AP Photo/Ronda Churchill)

If you're filling out this year's NCAA brackets and looking for a Cinderella pick, Long Beach State might fit the bill. For one thing, they weren't expected to make the tournament. For another, their coach is coaching, but he also got fired last week. It takes a little unpacking:

  • Fired: After Long Beach lost its last five games of the season, coach Dan Monson and the school announced that he was out after 17 years, reports ESPN. However, the school allowed him to coach the team through the Big West Conference tournament.
  • 'We got you, coach': Given the losing skid and turmoil, Long Beach wasn't expected to do much in the conference tournament. Instead, they won three games in a row and thus clinched a trip to the NCAA tournament less than a week after Monson was fired, per Yahoo Sports. Monson recalls trying to give his team a pep talk before the conference final, but he broke down. "I got emotional," he tells the Wall Street Journal. "And they just started cheering and clapping and saying, 'We got you, coach.'"

  • Bizarre: "I guess you could say I'm in the middle of nowhere in a lot of respects," the 62-year-old Monson tells the Athletic, which has a detailed look at how all this unfolded: "It is a bizarre and yet somehow oddly fitting arc for Monson," who previously coached at Gonzaga and Minnesota.
  • Bizarre, II: In all the coverage of this, the Journal might have the best line: "There might not be anybody in America who had a weirder week at work than Dan Monson." After all, lots of coaches get fired for failing to make the big tournament. "This coach got fired—and then his team made the NCAA tournament."
  • Now what: Long Beach is a 15th seed in the NCAA tournament with the unenviable task of playing No. 2 Arizona on Thursday.
(More March Madness stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.