Utah Utes Men’s Basketball History Update

The school has made the NCAA Tournament 29 times, tied for 27th-most in NCAA history

Posted on April 3, 2024

  By SuperWest Sports Staff

In this series of updates on the history of SuperWest hoops program, we provide a brief coaching summary, and a list of the current coaches, along with postseason results, conference titles, award winners, and all-time coaching records.

Utah began playing men’s basketball in 1908, finishing with a record of 3–8. But by 1916, the Utes had won their first national championship, capturing the National AAU Tournament title.

The school has made the NCAA Tournament 29 times, tied for 27th-most in NCAA history, and fourth-most appearances in the West behind only UCLA, Arizona, and BYU.

In 1927 Utah began laying the foundation for what would become one of the winningest programs in college basketball with the hiring of Vadal Peterson.

He and the Utes reached the ultimate prize in 1944, winning national championship, with Arnie Ferrin named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after scoring 28 points in the final two games.

Three years later, Peterson would lead Utah to the then-more prestigious NIT championship, with a victory over Kentucky.

Peterson retired with a 385–230 record, ending his tenure as the only coach in Utah history to have won a national championship.

Former Utah coach Jack Gardner | Utah Athletics

Jack Gardner, who coached Utah from 1953 to 1971, led the Utes to seven conference titles, making six NCAA Tournament appearances, including two Final Fours.

Known for his fast-break style, Gardner earned Utah the nickname Runnin’ Utes. He remains one of only three coaches to twice lead two different programs to the Final Four, along with Roy Williams and Rick Pitino.

The kingpin of Utah’s recent basketball success is Rick Majerus, who coached Utah to nine conference titles, making 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament, including a Final Four appearance in 1998.

Former Utah coach Rick Majerus | Al Behrman/Associated Press

His 323-95 career record is the best overall winning percentage among Utah coaches, with only one losing season in 25 years, setting the standard for all subsequent Ute headmen.

In 2011, Larry Krystkowiak took the reins in Salt Lake City, transitioning the Utes into the newly expanded Pac-12 Conference. His teams made two NCAA Tournament appearances but never won a conference title.

Craig Smith was hired away from Utah State in 2021, signing a six-year contract worth $12.6 million. His Utah team went 11-20 in his initial rebuilding year.

The Utes improved to 17-15 in his second season, highlighted by an 81-66 upset of No. 4 Arizona on December 1, 2022.

Utah went 22–15 in Smith’s third season, snapping an 11-game home losing streak to Oregon behind a career-high 24 points from Devion Smith, who broke Jason Kidd’s Pac-12 single-season record with five triple-doubles.

The Utes accepted an invitation to play in the 2024 NIT, advancing to the Final Four before losing to Indiana State in Utah’s first postseason appearance since 2018.

University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)

Jon M. Huntsman Center

Current Coaching Staff
Current head coach: Craig Smith (2021-present)
Assistant: Chris Burgess (2021-present)
Assistant: DeMarlo Slocum (2011-19, 2021-present)
Assistant: Tramel Barnes (2023-present)
Basketball Director of Operations: Curran Walsh (2021-present)
Director Player Personnel: Tyler Larson (2023-present)
Special Assistant to the head coach: Justin Johnson (2021-present)

Postseason Results
National Championships:   (1944)
Final Four Appearances:  4  (1944, 1961, 1966, 1998)
Elite Eight: 6 (1944, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1997, 1998)
Sweet Sixteen Appearances:  16  (1955, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1966, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2015)
NCAA Tournament Appearances:  29  (1944, 1945, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1966, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2015, 2016)
NCAA Tournament Overall Record:  38-32
NIT Championships:   (1947)
NIT Appearances:  15  (1944, 1947, 1949, 1957, 1958, 1970, 1974, 1987, 1988, 1992, 2001, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2024)
NIT Overall Record:  18-14
CBI Appearances:   (2008)
CBI Overall Record:  1-1

Conference Titles (MSC/Skyline, WAC, Mountain West, Pac-12)
Pac-12 Regular Season Championships:  0
Mountain West Regular Season Championships:  5  (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009)
WAC Regular Season Championships:  12  (1966, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999)
MSC/Skyline Regular Season Championships:  12  (1931, 1932, 1933, 1937, 1938, 1945, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962)
Pac-12 Tournament Championships:  0
Mountain West Tournament Championships:  2  (2004, 2009)
WAC Tournament Championships:  3  (1995, 1997, 1999)

Annual Award Winners
Naismith Player of the Year:   (Andrew Bogut, 2005)
John R. Wooden Award:   (Andrew Bogut, 2005)
Oscar Robertson Trophy:   (Andrew Bogut, 2005)
AP Player of the Year:   (Andrew Bogut, 2005)
NABC Player of the Year:  1  (Andrew Bogut, 2005)
AP All-Americans:  13  (Jakob Pöltl-2016; Delon Wright-2015; Andrew Bogut-2005; Andre Miller-1999; Keith Van Horn-1997 & 1996; Danny Vranes-1981; Luther Burden-1974; Bill McGill-1962, 1961 & 1960; Vern Gardner-1949; Arnie Ferrin-1948)
Pac-12 Player of the Year:  1  (Jakob Pöltl, 2016)
Mountain West Player of the Year:  4  (Luke Nevill-2009; Andrew Bogut-2005; Britton Johnsen-2002; Alex Jensen-2000)
WAC Player of the Year:  7  (Andre Miller-1999; Keith Van Horn-1997, 1996 & 1995; Josh Grant-1992 & 1991; Pace Mannion-1983)

Utah Head Coaching Records
Craig Smith2021-Pres50-50000
Larry Krystkowiak2011-2021183-139020
Jim Boylen2007-201169-60110
Ray Giacoletti2004-200754-40110
Kerry Rupp (int)20049-4000
Rick Majerus1989-2004323-959110
Dick Hunsaker (int)2000-200118-12100
Joe Cravens1989-199012-12000
Lynn Archibald1983-198998-86110
Jerry Pimm1974-1983173-86350
Bill E. Foster1971-197443-39000
Jack Gardner1953-1971339-154760
Vadal Peterson1927-1953385-230621
Ike Armstrong1925-19279-181
Thomas Fitzpatrick1917-192542-300
Nelson Nordgren1914-191726-7
Fred Bennion1910-191444-9
Robert Richardson1909-191017-3
Erastus Milne1908-19093-8

Previously in Series:

Washington Men’s Hoops Status Update

Washington State Men’s Hoops Status Update

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