The first-year assistant coach is set to head to Malibu where he will immediately take over as the new head coach of the Pepperdine Waves.
Romar’s lone season at Arizona was likely nothing what he expected it to be. He was hired in April, joining a talented team that was talked up as a national championship contender.
Not only would Arizona lose in the first round of the tournament, it went through the wringer for eight months before getting there.
First, Arizona was in caught in Barcelona during a terrorist attack in August. Then in September, former assistant coach Book Richardson was arrested for bribery, corruption, and fraud as part of the federal investigation into college basketball recruiting.
Shortly after that, Rawle Alkins broke his foot which forced him to miss the first nine games of the season and a few more after that.
Things seemed to stabilize for a while after Alkins returned, but then Allonzo Trier was declared ineligible in late February after failing a drug test. That same weekend, ESPN’s wiretap report broke and head coach Sean Miller stepped away from the team for a few days, as his future with the program became unclear. Romar filled in for him during that.
Romar didn’t sign up for any of that. But he would have, even knowing what he knows now.
“People have asked me that question: Are you sorry you came in the midst of all this? No. If you told me before I got here, your choice is to stay home this year or you’re going to Arizona and these are the things that are going to happen, this is the adversity you’re going to face, I’d take it any day of the week,” he said.
“Because we were in the foxhole battling. I know (Miller’s) a good man. I know he’s a good man. And I’ve watched what he went through this year. To be in the foxhole this year, I consider it an honor.”
Romar was undoubtedly a steadying force for the Wildcats throughout their trials and tribulations.
Everyone in Arizona’s locker room has great, not just good, things to say about him.
“Special, special coach. Special, special guy.” said Arizona point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. “It’s not always about coaches’ Xs and Os and how well they can scheme. It’s about who they are as a person, and he gets the best out of his players because who he is as a guy.”
“I’m glad I got to spend a year with him after I didn’t sign to play for him out of high school,” Trier said. “But that’s a man who has seen me grow and blossom through my lifetime into who I am.
“He’s one of the best men I’ve ever been around in my life. Great guy, God-fearing man, never steers you in the wrong direction, wants the best for you, will love you to death. There’s not many better people than Coach Romar, and I have a lot of love for him.”
Romar said he learned a lot from Miller during his brief stint at Arizona. About his game preparation, his defensive concepts, and his scouting methods.
But Romar still wishes he could have done more to help the Wildcats avoid such a disappointing end to their season.
Like ... what?
“I don’t even know,” he said, holding back tears after UA’s season ended in Boise. “I just wish somehow we could have done better. I wish I could have done something better to help.”
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire