Duquesne’s Dambrot set to retire following NCAA Tournament

Duquesne University head men’s basketball Keith Dambrot announced at a press conference Monday in the ballroom of the Power Center that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season.

Dambot, a native of Akron, Ohio, was named head coach of the Dukes March 28, 2017, and has guided the program to a record of 115-95 (.548) in his seven years on the Bluff. The veteran coach wasted no time making an impact on the Duquesne program with 65 wins in his first four seasons, while his three 20-win campaigns, in just seven years, ranks third in program history. Dambrot’s 115 wins rank fourth on the Dukes’ all-time victory list.

During the 2023-24 campaign, Dambrot has led the Dukes to an overall record of 24-11 (.686), including an eight-game winning streak that culminated with Duquesne winning its first Atlantic 10 Championship and automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament since 1977. The Dukes earned a 57-51 victory over VCU Sunday in the title game in Brooklyn, N.Y., at the Barclays Center. The 24 wins are the most in program history since 1953-94, when Duquesne finished 26-3 (.897) and appeared in the NIT. That team featured Sid Dambrot, Keith’s father.

Thanks to the win over the Rams, Duquesne became the fifth team to win four games and earn the Atlantic 10 Championship crown, joining Xavier (2004, 2006), VCU (2015) and Saint Louis (2019). The Dukes earned an 11 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament and will take on No. 6 BYU in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, March 21, at 12:40 p.m. at CHI Health Center Arena as part of the East Region.

Dambrot reached a significant milestone Feb. 8, 2023, when he posted his 500th career victory with a 75-52 victory over George Mason at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse. In 26 years as a head coach, Dambrot has compiled an overall record of 528-304 (.635), and is one of 28 active NCAA Division I coaches with 500 more wins, including nine who have never coached at a Power 5/Big East school, joining Mark Few (Gonzaga), Greg Kampe (Oakland), Lennie Acuff (Bellhaven, Berry, Alabama Huntsville, Lipscomb), Fran Dunphy (Penn, Temple, La Salle), Scott Nagy (South Dakota State, Wright State), Ron Cottrell (Houston Christian), Randy Bennett (Saint Mary’s) and Ron Hunter (IUPUI, Georgia State, Tulane).

In 2019-20, Dambrot tied all-time great Dudey Moore, the man who coached his late father, Sid, for most wins by a Duquesne coach in his first three seasons with 56. Only Moore, who coached six NIT and one NCAA Duquesne team from 1949-58, and Chick Davies, who led the Dukes to three NIT and one NCAA appearance (1925-43, 1947-48), reached the 50-win mark in fewer games. Dambrot inherited a 10-22 team in 2017-18 and posted 16, 19 and 21 wins in his first three seasons prior to adding nine victories in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 campaign. During the 2022-23 season, Dambrot rebuilt a Duquesne team coming off a record of 6-24 and turned it into a 20-game winner, with the win improvement of +12.5 in the best in program history.

Prior to being named the head coach of the Dukes, Dambrot spent 13 seasons at Akron, accumulating a school record 305 wins. A three-time Mid-American Conference (MAC) Coach of the Year, Dambrot led the Zips to MAC Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament bids in 2009, 2011 and 2013. He also guided Akron to 10 postseason appearances, including five NIT appearances and one each in the CBI and CIT.

In 26 years as a head coach, which has also included stints at Tiffin (1984-86), Ashland (1989-90) and Central Michigan (1991-93), Dambrot has seen a number of former assistants enjoy success at the NCAA Division I level, including South Carolina head coach Lamont Paris and Ohio head coach Jeff Boals. Shaka Smart, a Dambrot assistant from 2003 to 2006, made stops at Clemson (2006-08) and Florida (2008-09) before taking his first head coach position at VCU in 2009. Smart, who went on to lead VCU to the 2011 Final Four, is currently the head coach at Marquette.

Dambrot graduated from Akron with a degree in management in 1982 and added a master’s in business administration from his alma mater in 1984. He was a three-year starter, captain and team MVP as a third baseman for the Akron baseball team, finishing his career as the school record holder for hit by pitches (28).

His late uncle, Irwin Dambrot, played for the 1950 City College of New York (CCNY) squad, which is the only school to win both the NCAA Tournament and NIT in the same season. Irwin was the MVP of the NCAA Tournament that season and the No. 1 draft pick of the New York Knicks (seventh overall) that same year.

Dambrot’s father, Sid, who passed away in October of 2021, was part of Duquesne teams that finished ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 in 1952 (No. 4), 1953 (No. 9) and 1954 (No. 5). The 1953-54 squad that finished 26-3 made it to No. 1 in the AP for two weeks in February of 1954. The Dukes played in both the NCAA Tournament and NIT in 1952 and the NIT in both 1953 and 1954.

Dambrot and his wife, Donna, have two children, Alysse and Robby. Alysse earned her undergraduate degree as well as an MBA from Akron, while Robby completed his soccer career at Pitt in the fall of 2018 and signed a two-year contract with Loudon United FC of the USL Championship in December of 2023.


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