Tommy Amaker
Tommy Amaker
Title: The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball
Phone: (617) 495-4856
Previous College: Duke 1987
Experience: 13th Season

In the 12 seasons since taking over as head coach of Harvard’s men’s basketball program, Tommy Amaker has reinvented the Crimson into an Ivy League power with a national presence. He has directed Harvard to a period of unprecedented prosperity in the form of seven Ivy League championships (2011-15, 2018-19), four NCAA tournament appearances (2012-15) and six 20-win seasons (2010-15). Amaker is the all-time winningest coach with the Crimson, surpassing Frank Sullivan with a 74-66 win at Boston College Dec. 7, 2016. 

Amaker was introduced as head coach by Nichols Family Director of Athletics Bob Scalise on April 13, 2007, following six seasons as head coach at Michigan and four at the helm of Seton Hall. Amaker owns a 406-270 career record: 230-131 at Harvard, 108-84 at Michigan and 68-55 at Seton Hall. He has earned numerous Coach of the Year awards, including the 2013 Clarence "Big House" Gaines College Basketball Coach of the Year Award, presented to the top minority basketball coach in NCAA Division I. In 2012, he was presented with district coach of the year awards from both the United States Basketball Writers Association and National Association of Basketball Coaches, and was a candidate for the AP National Coach of the Year. He has also been named a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award six times (2011-15, 2019), and the Hugh Durham Award three times (2011, 2012, 2015).

With Amaker at the helm, Harvard student-athletes have garnered seven All-America honors, 14 All-District distinctions and 33 all-conference accolades. Additionally, Keith Wright '12 (2012), Wesley Saunders ’15 (2014) and Seth Towns (2018) have been named Ivy League Player of the Year, Steve Moundou-Missi ’15 (2015) and Agunwa Okolie ’16 (2016) have garnered defensive player of the year plaudits, with Kyle Casey ’13-14 (2010), Siyani Chambers ’16-17 (2013), Bryce Aiken (2017) and Noah Kirkwood (2019) earning rookie of the year honors.

Before beginning his head-coaching career, Amaker won two NCAA championships and advanced to five Final Fours as an assistant and associate head coach at Duke. He was previously a four-year starter at point guard for the Blue Devils, leading the team to the 1986 NCAA title game before earning All-America honors and recognition as the nation’s top defensive player in his senior year of 1987.

Harvard has garnered the attention of the nation with four straight appearances in the NCAA tournament, but Amaker's teams have long been making headlines, with each season bringing more program milestones. Some of the highlights:

  • A 208-95 (.686) overall record since 2009-10, ranking as the 25th-highest win percentage in the NCAA over the last 10 seasons
  • A 110-18 (.859) home record since 2009-10, ranking as the 15th-highest home-court win percentage in the NCAA over the last 10 seasons
  • Four straight NCAA tournament appearances (2012, ’13, ’14, ’15), becoming just the third program in Ancient Eight history with at least four straight NCAA bids
  • Five consecutive Ivy League championships (2011, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15), becoming just the second program in Ancient Eight history with at least five straight titles
  • Six straight seasons with 20 wins and a postseason appearance (2010, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15), tying the longest streak in Ivy League history for 20-win seasons
  • Harvard’s first appearance in a major national poll, ranking as high as No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25 in 2011-12
  • Harvard’s first appearance in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25, ranking No. 25 in 2014-15
  • The six highest single-season win totals in program history (27-5 in 2013-14, 26-5 in 2011-12, 23-7 in 2010-11, 22-8 in 2014-15, 21-8 in 2009-10 and 20-10 in 2012-13)
  • Two wins in the NCAA tournament (68-62 vs. No. 3 New Mexico, March 21, 2013; 61-57 vs. No. 5 Cincinnati, March 20, 2014), Harvard’s first two NCAA tournament wins.
  • Harvard’s first win in the NIT (71-68 vs. Georgetown, March 20, 2019)
  • 28-game home winning streak from 2010-12
  • 2013 Great Alaska Shootout tournament champions
  • 2011 Battle 4 Atlantis tournament champions
  • 16 wins against power-conference opponents, with an 8-6 record against Atlantic Coast Conference teams
  • Four wins against ranked teams
  • Appearance in the first three inaugural Ivy League tournaments
  • Thirteen (13) first team All-Ivy League selections, four Ivy League Rookies of the Year (Kyle Casey '13-14, Siyani Chambers '16-17, Bryce Aiken ’20 and Noah Kirkwood ’22), two Ivy League Defensive Players of the Year (Steve Moundou-Missi ’15 & Agunwa Okolie ’16), three Ivy League Players of the Year (Keith Wright ’12, Wesley Saunders '15 & Seth Towns ’20), and one NBA signee (Jeremy Lin ’10). 

Among Amaker’s career achievements:

  • 406-270 record (.600)
  • 14 postseason appearances
  • 2004 NIT championship
  • Five NCAA tournament appearances, including 2000 Sweet Sixteen
  • Coached six NBA players

For the second year in-a-row, and the seventh time in nine seasons, Harvard earned the Ivy League championship. Bryce Aiken was a unanimous All-Ivy League first team selection, while Noah Kirkwood became Harvard’s fourth Ivy League Rookie of the Year under Amaker. The Crimson capped the 2018-19 season with its second-straight trip to the NIT, where it earned the first win in the event in program history, over Georgetown (71-68).

The Crimson captured its sixth Ivy League crown in program history in 2017-18, each coming under Amaker, and earned its second-ever berth to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). Seth Towns capped a tremendous season as the Ivy League Player of the Year and All-America selection, while Chris Lewis and Justin Bassey also garnered All-Ivy recognition. With a victory over Dartmouth on Jan. 20, Amaker became the fifth head coach in Ivy League history to reach 200 wins at an Ivy program, doing it the second-fastest in the conference’s history.

Harvard capped the 2016-17 season with an appearance in the inaugural Ivy League tournament. The Crimson - the 10th-youngest team according to KenPom rankings - finished 18-10 overall, including a 10-4 mark in Ancient Eight play. On Dec. 7, 2016, Amaker became the all-time winningest men's basketball coach in Harvard history, surpassing the previous mark with a 74-66 win at Boston College. Amaker also ended the season as the all-time leader at Harvard in Ivy wins (94). 

In 2014-15, Harvard finished the regular season tied with Yale for the Ancient Eight crown. The Crimson defeated the Bulldogs in a one-game playoff for the right to represent the Ivy League in the NCAA tournament, where it fell to fourth-seeded North Carolina, 67-65, despite taking a 65-63 lead with 1:15 to play. Harvard also completed its second straight season sweep of traditional Ivy powers Penn and Princeton during the regular season, becoming the first program in conference history to do in consecutive years.

In 2013-14, the 12th-seeded Crimson knocked off fifth-seeded Cincinnati in the tournament's second round, and nearly pulled off an upset of fourth-seeded Michigan State to reach the Sweet 16. Harvard finished the year with a 27-5 overall record and a 13-1 mark in the Ivy League, setting program bests for both overall victories and conference victories, and also captured the title at the Great Alaska Shootout along the way. Additionally, a record six Crimson were named to the All-Ivy League teams, including player of the year Wesley Saunders '15.

A year earlier, Harvard earned a historic win in the NCAA tournament as the 14th-seeded Crimson upset third-seeded New Mexico, which was ranked 10th nationally. The victory was the first by the Crimson against a top-10 opponent and left Harvard among the nation’s top 32 teams at season’s end. The 2012-13 season also saw Amaker become the fourth head coach to win 100 games at Harvard, reaching that milestone on Jan. 5, 2013, when the Crimson defeated Rice, 92-62.

A win in the NCAA tournament was a natural progression after the 2011-12 season, perhaps the best overall campaign in program history and the first in which the Crimson claimed sole possession of the Ivy title.  En route to ending its 66-year NCAA tournament drought, Harvard debuted in the national rankings, climbing as high as No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and No. 22 in the Associated Press poll. Finishing 26-5, Harvard eclipsed the program's previous record for wins for the third straight year and matched the previous season’s program-best 12-2 Ivy mark. The Crimson also won the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, with wins against Utah, No. 20 Florida State and UCF.

For his effort, Amaker was named the USBWA and NABC district coach of the year, as well as the College Insider Ivy League Coach of the Year. Amaker was also tabbed a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award and the Hugh Durham Award for coaching and was selected as a candidate for the AP National Coach of the Year. He received the NABC, College Insider, Jobe and Durham recognitions for the second straight year.

Harvard’s first Ivy crown came in 2010-11, when the Crimson went 23-7, tied Princeton at 12-2 in league play, set a program record with 14 home wins and made its first NIT appearance.  The 23 wins briefly held as the program standard, erasing the 21 victories from 2009-10 from the top spot. That 2009-10 campaign ended in the Tournament, Harvard’s first postseason berth since 1946.

Amaker’s first two seasons showed signs of the great achievements to come. The 2008-09 freshman class was tabbed as one of the nation’s 25 best recruiting classes by ESPN, an accolade never before bestowed upon an Ivy League institution. The Crimson went on to post a victory at No. 17 Boston College. The marquee win in Amaker’s debut season of 2007-08 was a 62-51 victory over Michigan—Amaker’s former team—on national television.

At Michigan, Amaker inherited a program that was reeling from institutional and NCAA sanctions but led the Wolverines to the postseason three times, winning the 2004 NIT title and reaching the championship game of the 2006 NIT. The Wolverines were ranked as high as No. 20 in the nation during the 2005-06 season.

Seton Hall reached the postseason every year during Amaker’s tenure. He led the Pirates to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2000 and to three appearances in the NIT. He was credited with bringing in the top recruiting class in the country, including the national high school player of the year, for the 2000-01 season.

Amaker has been the head coach of six players who were either drafted, or signed as free agents, by NBA clubs, including two first-round draft picks.

Amaker served nine years as a graduate assistant, assistant coach and associate head coach at Duke, working for legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski. He was an assistant on two NCAA championship teams with the Blue Devils (1991, ’92) and helped Duke to three other Final Fours in eight NCAA tournament appearances. Duke was a combined 230-80 in Amaker’s nine years on the Blue Devils coaching staff.

A native of Falls Church, Virginia, Amaker began his career in college basketball with a highly successful playing stint at Duke. He led the Blue Devils to four NCAA tournaments, including the 1986 national championship game, and served as team captain as a senior. Amaker was the 1987 winner of the Henry Iba Corinthian Award as the nation’s top defensive player, and he was enshrined in the Duke Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2013, Amaker was inducted in the Washington Metropolitan Basketball Hall of Fame.

Amaker is also a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2013, and the W.T. Woodson H.S. Hall of Fame (Fairfax, Va.) (2012).

Amaker’s playing career also includes a gold medal as part of the U.S. national team at the 1986 World Championships.

A 1987 Duke graduate with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Amaker was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1987 NBA draft. He currently serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and is a former board member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches Foundation. Additionally, Amaker served on the board of USA Basketball where he was a member of the Men’s Collegiate and Men’s Senior National Committees, helping to select members of the gold-medal-winning 1996 U.S. Olympic team.

Amaker also serves on the Board of Overseers for the Boys & Girls Club of Boston.