March 13, 2014
Rice Director of Athletics Joe Karlgaard announced on Thursday that he has accepted the resignation of head men’s basketball coach Ben Braun effective immediately.
“Ben and I met this morning to review the program and at that time he expressed to me his decision to resign as our head coach,” Karlgaard said. “I want to thank Ben for his hard work during his time at Rice. We will immediately begin identifying and contacting individuals who we feel are ready to come to Rice and lead this program to an exciting future.”
“I thought it was in our program’s best interest that I step down as Rice’s head basketball coach,” Braun said. “I want to thank Rice University for the opportunity to coach our team for the last six years. The players, coaches and staff have worked diligently to represent Rice with class and dignity. I am proud we were able to take our program to a postseason tournament as well as achieve academic excellence off the court. I believe both the returning players and those currently signed for next year will form the nucleus for a very solid future. The team will always have my support.”
Braun, 60, compiled a 63-128 record in six seasons at Rice and has an overall record of 615-517. His 615 career wins rank 12th among active coaches and 41st all-time. Over his 36 seasons of coaching, Braun led teams to seven NCAA appearances, including a pair of trips to the Sweet 16 and four berths in NIT.
The Owls were 7-23 this past season, which ended with a 63-62 overtime loss to North Texas in the opening round of the Conference USA Basketball Tournament in El Paso.
His final team at Rice saw 14 of its 30 games decided by five points or less with the Owls finishing 5-9 in those games. They were led by All C-USA Freshman selection Sean Obi, who set a Rice freshman record with 279 rebounds and his 9.3 rebounds per game led all of C-USA and ranked second nationally among freshmen. He also tied the Rice freshman mark by hitting on 59.1% of his field goals.
Braun’s top season at Rice came in 2012 when he led the Owls to a 19-16 record, ending with a berth in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament. The 19 wins were the most for the Owls since the 2004-05 campaign while their 8-8 mark in conference play equaled their best C-USA record. The Owls’ pair of wins in the CIT marked the first time the Owls won multiple games in a postseason tournament.
Late in that season, Rice charged back from a double-digit deficit at home against UCF to beat the Knights 83-74 and give Braun his 600th career victory. He became the 40th head coach in NCAA Division I history and the 64th NCAA coach, regardless of division, to win 600 career games.
Braun’s recruiting efforts at Rice resulted in four C-USA All-Freshman selections (Arsalan Kazemi, Dylan Ennis, Max Guercy and Sean Obi) as well as 10 C-USA All-Academic honorees.
Braun’s Owls produced the C-USA Scholar-Athlete in Men’s Basketball from 2009-13 (2014 winner has not yet been announced) and earned the C-USA Men’s Basketball Academic Award four times (2010, ’11, ’12, ’13).
The 2013 Owls were one of 21 teams to receive the NABC with their Team Academic Excellence Award, which is presented to programs posting a 3.0 or higher GPA for the academic year. Braun’s players also earned nine NABC Honors Court selections which goes to players who are either in their junior or senior year and have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher.