Loyola Maryland hires Josh Loeffler as men’s basketball coach

Josh Loeffler’s departure from Baltimore lasted less than one year.

Loeffler, who was the head coach of the Johns Hopkins men’s basketball program for six years before leaving last June to be an assistant at Cincinnati, will be the 22nd head coach at Loyola Maryland, the university announced Saturday.

“I wasn’t planning on this so soon, and I wasn’t going to take any job,” said the 43-year-old Loeffler, adding that he met with university president Terrence M. Sawyer and athletic director Donna M. Woodruff a few days ago. “I was really grateful for the time here in Cincinnati. It was an awesome experience here, and it’s an amazing program and an awesome place. It would take something really special for me to leave Cincinnati, and Baltimore is as much as the house I grew up in.

“It’s right near my family. My daughters haven’t lived anywhere else for the first 11 or 10 years of their lives. So the opportunity to come back to Loyola in that place with people that I really admire and enjoy working with, it was just an opportunity that was too good to pass up.”

Loeffler, who was an assistant with the Greyhounds from 2013 to 2017 under G.G. Smith, succeeds Tavaras Hardy, who stepped down March 8. Under Hardy, Loyola compiled a 66-110 overall record and a 35-61 mark in the Patriot League, including going 7-25 overall and 5-13 in the conference this past season before losing to Navy, 64-48, in a tournament quarterfinal.

As a head coach, Loeffler guided the Blue Jays to a 114-27 overall record in five full seasons (not including the 2020-21 campaign that was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic) and a 77-13 mark in the Centennial Conference. Johns Hopkins captured three conference tournament championships and made appearances in four NCAA Division III Tournaments.

The Blue Jays won at least 23 games four times and advanced to the Centennial Conference title game in each of Loeffler’s five full seasons. He became the second coach in school history to reach the 100-win milestone, doing so in just 125 games.

In the team’s final season under Loeffler, the Blue Jays tied the program record for victories with 25 and advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing in overtime to Wisconsin-Whitewater. Loeffler was named the Centennial Conference and NABC Region Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2023.

“I am very excited to welcome Josh Loeffler to Loyola as our next head men’s basketball coach,” Woodruff said in a written statement. “Josh has been extremely successful as a head coach at outstanding academic institutions, and he has a deep knowledge of the Patriot League and what it takes to be successful in our conference. Throughout the search process, Josh demonstrated his commitment to developing players to thrive both in basketball and life, and his commitment to Loyola’s mission and values will serve Greyhounds student-athletes in all areas of their lives.”

Loeffler has a track record of turning around programs quickly. In his first year at Johns Hopkins in 2017-18, he helped the program improve by eight victories, earned a share of the Centennial Conference regular-season title, and became the first coach in conference history to capture the tournament crown and claim Coach of the Year recognition in his initial season.

In his head coaching debut at Stevens Institute of Technology, Loeffler guided the 2006-07 team to a 23-7 record and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.

Asked if he had a timetable for reviving Loyola, Loeffler said, “I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of some really great turnarounds in Year One at both of my head coaching stops, and I know that’s not the norm. But I think the big thing for me is to trying to hold the program to a really high standard from Day One and elevate that standard every day. If we do that, the success should follow. It is a process. It’s not easy. There will be ups and downs, but we have to embrace that, and the results will follow if we stay true to that.”

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A three-year starter in basketball at Division III Swarthmore, Loeffler’s previous Division I coaching journey includes stops at Lafayette as an assistant coach from 2008 to 2012 and Rutgers as director of basketball operations in 2012-13.

As an assistant at Cincinnati this past winter, Loeffler contributed to the Bearcats amassing a 22-15 overall record and a 7-11 mark in their debut in the Big 12 Conference. The team’s season ended Wednesday after an 85-81 loss to Indiana State in the quarterfinals of the National Inivitation Tournament.

Loeffler, a native of West Grove, Pennsylvania, inherits a Loyola program that collected its fewest victories in a season since the 2004-05 squad won only six of 28 games in Jimmy Patsos’ first year as coach. The school has earned one trip to the Patriot League Tournament final in 2021 and has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 2012.

The task of making the Greyhounds relevant in the conference did not seem to faze Loeffler.

“There’s no pressure greater than the pressure I put on myself,” he said. “So I don’t anticipate anything being more pressure-packed than what I expect from myself every day.”