Tavaras Hardy steps down after six years as coach of Loyola Maryland men’s basketball

Tavaras Hardy stepped down Friday after six seasons as coach of Loyola Maryland men’s basketball.

Hardy, the program’s 21st coach, had guided the Greyhounds to a 66-110 overall record in those six years, including a 35-61 mark in the Patriot League. He said Friday he was already on the phone discussing potential job offers.

“I appreciate everything that Loyola has done for me and my career,” he said. “I appreciate the student-athletes I had a chance to work with, and I obviously appreciate [athletic director] Donna [Woodruff] and the administration for giving me this chance. I just think that we haven’t gotten where I thought we would have been, and the landscape is changing in college athletics.

“I had always worked at the Power 5 level since I started coaching, and I just think there’s probably an opportunity there that would be more suited for me now.”

The Greyhounds finished this past season 7-25 overall and 5-13 in conference play with a loss to Navy in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament. It marked their fewest wins in a full season since going 6-22 as part of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 2004-05, Jimmy Patsos’ first season as coach.

Loyola’s most successful season under Hardy occurred in a coronavirus pandemic-abbreviated 2020-21 campaign, when the team overcame a 1-5 record in the conference to advance as the No. 9 seed to its first Patriot League Tournament final before falling to No. 2 seed Colgate, 85-72.

That squad was headlined by Santi Aldama, who became the first player in school history to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft. In June 2021, the Memphis Grizzlies used the No. 30 overall pick to choose the 6-foot-11 power forward.

That team also included 6-4 shooting guard Cam Spencer, a Davidsonville native and Boys’ Latin graduate who transferred to Rutgers for one season and is currently the second-leading scorer for a Connecticut squad that captured last year’s NCAA championship and is the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Spencer is averaging 14.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 30 starts for the Huskies (27-3, 17-2 Big East).

“We did some really good stuff,” Hardy said. “I don’t have any regrets in terms of the overall mission for the program. Off the court, I came in and set a good tone. Our team GPA is as high as it’s ever been [just under 3.3]. So I’m proud of that, but also proud of some of the things we did on the court. We went to a championship, we had a first-round NBA draft pick. I was Cam Spencer’s only D-1 scholarship offer, and he did a lot of good work for us before he hit the portal. … We did some good stuff, but overall record-wise, I wish we did better.”

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In a written statement distributed by the university’s athletic department, Woodruff thanked Hardy for his work with the program.

“Tavaras has been passionate about the well-being and success of not just our men’s basketball student-athletes, but the entire Loyola community since he came to our university,” she said. “We are grateful to him for his dedication to our men’s basketball program and everyone connected to it for the last six years. We wish Tavaras and his family all the best moving forward.”

Only 44 years old, Hardy said he is interested in returning to conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East and Big Ten where he was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech, Georgetown and Northwestern before joining Loyola. He said he turned down an offer last year to be the associate head coach at an ACC program.

Hardy also said he could envision himself giving head coaching another try.

“I definitely want to,” he said. “I don’t have any regrets. I wish things would have gone a little differently, but what we were trying to accomplish was right and right for college athletics. I’ll continue to focus on pushing whoever we recruit wherever I end up to pursue a true student-athlete experience. Academics will always be important to me as well as basketball. So if there’s an opportunity to use what I’ve learned because I have learned a lot over the last six years, I’ll certainly pursue it.”