It took a year of turmoil in college hoops to get us wondering,
but wonder we did: Which schools have the least and most stable
programs? After all, only four times in the last 40 years has a
school won an NCAA title with a coach who had been in place for
fewer than five years. (The exceptions were Michigan State in
1979, N.C. State in '83, Michigan in '89 and Kentucky in '98.)
But coaching longevity isn't the only mark of a program's
stability. Those dreaded "-tions"--probation, suspension,
transition, distraction--can have a profound effect as well.
(Nothing will get a coach to denigrate his own team's chances
more than "distractions.") Moreover, without rosters stocked with
fully ripened seniors, recent mid-major upstarts like Princeton,
Kent State and Creighton wouldn't have enjoyed their glorious
So we devised a simple metric, the Stability Index, to quantify
just how grounded, or how chaotic, a team is. If a school meets
one of our 10 tests, it scores. Eighty percent of your players
exhaust their eligibility on your campus? That's one point. Coach
been in place for at least five years? That's another. No NCAA
troubles in that span, either? Another point still. The higher
the Index, the more rock-solid the program. We also tagged with a
red flag any school that met a particularly alarming threshold of
instability within each category, and docked a point for each
While we've only included scores for our Top 20, we invite you to
calculate the Index for teams of your choice.
How It WORKS
The SI Stability Index is based on 10 criteria in three
categories. For meeting each test a school gets one point. (A
particularly poor record in a category earns a red flag and a
one-point deduction.) A total score of 1 or 0 (or less) indicates
a program in chaos; a 9 or 10 is a hoops Gibraltar.
THE PLAYERS (PAST FIVE SEASONS)
--Retention At least 80% of players (jucos included) who have
arrived on campus since the beginning of the 1998-99 season
(excluding this year's recruits) have exhausted their eligibility
at that school or are on track to do so.
COLOR PHOTO: DONALD MIRALLE/GETTY IMAGES CARDINAL VIRTUES Stanford's Montgomery runs a model program, even to his own detriment.
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO CARDINAL SINS Legal woes and a coaching shift to Pitino leaveLouisville last.