STANFORD (AP) — More than a decade ago, when Jerod Haase had just bought his own home in Kansas, his mother sent a truckload of his most precious belongings from where he grew up in Northern California.
Trophies. Souvenirs. A box filled with recruiting letters, some 50 to 60 of them still organized and intact.
The lone red folder came from Stanford and included letters from coach Mike Montgomery. There was a plaque from Haase’s team championship at Stanford basketball camp in 1991.
As soon as he scheduled his interview for the Stanford coaching job, Haase hustled to his basement in Birmingham, Alabama. That box was there in storage — yes, it survived a few more moves since — and he gathered the important paperwork for his Bay Area trip. Wife Mindy was stunned he retrieved everything in a mere 5 minutes.
“I found the folder fairly quickly. I don’t know how. It was pretty amazing,” Haase said, speaking after being formally introduced as Stanford’s new coach on Monday. “Then it would have traveled to North Carolina and made another move to Birmingham.”
Athletic director Bernard Muir could hardly believe it when he saw the folder preserved from Carol Haase’s cleanup project, and soon after the coach visited for an on-campus interview Muir had found his man to lead the Stanford program. Everyone is counting on the Cardinal becoming a regular NCAA Tournament participant again like during Montgomery’s nearly two decades on The Farm.
Muir didn’t discuss details of the contract other than to say he plans for the coach hired away from the University of Alabama at Birmingham to be around for the long haul, with no timetable for Stanford’s transformation.
“I’m 41 years old and I have 25 championship rings,” said Haase, who turns 42 on Friday. “Those rings are a product of the people and the coaches I’ve been around. ... When I was a player I was known for an attack mentality. I am going to do everything I can to make sure that the attack mentality is part of our culture and our program.”
Haase left UAB after four years to replace the fired Johnny Dawkins, who guided the Cardinal to the Sweet Sixteen two years ago but couldn’t build a consistent contender.
“I thought it was kind of odd that he brought in a Stanford folder,” Muir said. “You could see the pink envelope, which is what we give to our prospective student-athletes. He had letters that indicated here’s what we’re expecting from you academically. When I talked to Coach Montgomery later to say, ‘Here’s I think the direction we’re heading in,’ he said, ‘That’s the one that got away.’ Right off the bat, I quickly knew that he understood what the Stanford value is.”
Haase learned from the best. After a season at California with Jason Kidd as his backcourt mate, he transferred to Kansas and played for Roy Williams before later coaching under him for 13 years with the Jayhawks and at North Carolina.
Perhaps the No. 1 observation Haase made during all of those years around Williams is the way his mentor treats people while also running a successful program. From Williams’ players and staff to the janitor or concession worker, each person matters.
“He treated everybody so well. That’s a great lesson,” Haase said.
They’ve been in regular contact recently. Williams also spoke with Muir about Haase.
“He’s sensational,” Williams said. “He’s been one of those kind of youngsters that says great things, and says that I mean more to him that it really does. He knows I’m getting old, makes me feel better, that kind of thing. But we’ve had some great conversations. I’m really, really pleased for him.”
Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer, just back in town Sunday from a loss to Washington in the Lexington Regional final, spent a moment with Haase and offered her support.
Haase, his wife, and their children — Gavin, 9, Garrett, 6 and Gabby, 4 — are ready to take on the new challenge out West.
“To say I’m humble about the opportunity is an understatement,” Haase said. “I would not be here if I didn’t believe we could compete at the highest level and do it fairly quickly.”
And, right back where he believed he’d be coming out of high school in South Lake Tahoe.
“I always thought I would end up at Stanford as a player. I never thought in high school I’d be a coach here,” Haase said. “It didn’t work out the first time. This is a situation where I have a second chance at something very, very special.”