Patrick says move to Oklahoma hard decision

Arkansas assistant basketball coach David Patrick is shown during a July 2020 workout in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — David Patrick said his decision to resign as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Arkansas and take the same position at Oklahoma had nothing to do with any issues he had working for Razorbacks Coach Eric Musselman.

“I have zero issues with Muss,” Patrick said on Wednesday after his hiring by Oklahoma Coach Porter Moser was announced. “Me and Muss are not in a bad spot in any sense.

“We’re still good friends. His daughter is close with my daughters, and she stayed at our house over the weekend. My wife just had Bible study with his wife.

“This decision had nothing to do with my relationship with Muss. Our friendship is not severed at all.”

Patrick is the third Arkansas assistant coach to leave in Musselman’s two seasons along with Chris Crutchfield and Corey Williams.

Crutchfield left after last season to become head coach at East Central University, an NCAA Division II school in Ada, Okla. He recently was hired as an Oregon assistant coach.

Williams left after this season to become an assistant coach at Texas Tech, where he received a raise to $400,000 from $250,000.

“Muss was never too tough on me,” Patrick said. “I can’t speak for anybody else, but I can unequivocally say he had the ultimate trust in me, and I know I had the ultimate trust in him as a coach and as a person.”

Musselman and Patrick have been friends since meeting in 2008 and they were LSU assistants together during the 2014-15 season, but Patrick said he and Moser have been friends for about 15 years and are extremely close.

Moser, the coach at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 2011-14, was hired at Oklahoma after 10 seasons at Loyola Chicago, where he led the Ramblers to the Final Four in 2018 and the Sweet 16 this season.

“Porter and I are cut from the same cloth, we have the same philosophies,” Patrick said. “We’re close away from the court. Not that me and Muss aren’t.

“I knew with Porter’s success at Loyola, he’d have a chance to get some big jobs. He always mentioned the possibility of us working together.

“So when he got the Oklahoma job and offered me a chance to join him, it was just something I felt I couldn’t turn down. This is the right move at the right time for me and my family.”

Patrick said three schools contacted him about an assistant’s job after the season, but he didn’t want to name the other two besides Oklahoma.

One of the other schools, a source confirmed, was Illinois, which lost two assistant coaches — Orlando Antigua and Chin Coleman — to Kentucky.

A source confirmed Patrick will have a two-year contract with Oklahoma and receive comparable annual pay to the $600,000 he was set to receive at Arkansas — including a $200,000 retention bonus if he stayed through the end of next season. His annual salary at Arkansas was $400,000.

Arkansas and Oklahoma are scheduled to play next season in Tulsa as part of a two-year series, but that game could be pushed back for a second consecutive year if the BOK Center is not yet allowing a return to full capacity for fans because of coronavirus safety protocols.

“When Oklahoma and Arkansas play, I know there will be one competitive dude on the other bench,” Patrick said with a laugh in reference to the fiery Musselman. “But when you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you’re going to play some friends at times.

“When you’re going against an Eric Musselman-coached team, the first thing you have to understand is how hard they play. No matter where Muss has been, no matter the roster, that’s what’s coming at you. It’s going to be a war.”

The Razorbacks were 25-7 this season and reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the first time since 1995 before losing to eventual national champion Baylor.

For Patrick, it was the deepest NCAA Tournament run for his team since his freshman season at Syracuse when the Orange advanced to the 1996 Final Four.

“The team and the success and the ride we had this season, I know how hard that is to do,” Patrick said. “So to be able to do it with this group, under these circumstances, was an incredible experience.”

Patrick came to Arkansas in July after being the head coach at California-Riverside for two seasons.

“In our short time here, we really embraced living in Northwest Arkansas,” Patrick said. “We made great friends here. The people are so nice and genuine. It’s not a decision I regret one bit.

“‘I’m thankful I got to work for a great athletic director in Hunter [Yurachek] and work for a great head coach in Muss. I’m going to have that same situation at Oklahoma with Porter and [Athletic Director] Joe Castiglione.”

Patrick said he needed several days to make a final decision whether to accept Moser’s job offer.

“Leaving Arkansas was very tough, I really wrestled with it,” Patrick said. “On Monday night I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do.

“When I talked to Muss about it, he said, ‘Obviously, I don’t want to lose you, but you should do whatever you feel is best for you and your family.’

“In all the years that we’ve known each other, I’ve turned to him for advice on jobs, and that’s always been his answer. When I told him my decision on Tuesday, he wished me the best.”