Ryan Odom’s Decision to Stay at UMBC

By: Ethan Hennessy

We have always heard the phrase dogs are the most loyal animal. If that is true, then Ryan Odom definitely embodies the spirit of his school’s mascot, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. In a profession heavy on “the grass is always greener” phenomenon, Odom has chosen to remain at UMBC after attaining monumental success at the mid-major level.
Nate Oates, Dan Hurley, and Mike Young are all coaches just in the past two years that left mid-major jobs for high-major jobs the season immediately following winning an NCAA Tournament game. This isn’t to say that moving up to higher paying jobs at bigger institutions is a bad thing. We all have a desire to seek out new challenges at some point in our career. In fact, three key faces from the 2018 UMBC program are gone. Assistant coaches Griff Aldrich and Eric Skeeters each took head coaching positions at Division One schools Longwood and Delaware State respectively while athletic director Tim Hall left this past August for the same position at SIUE. This just highlights how rare Odom’s decision to stay at UMBC is in the modern college basketball world.


Former UMBC guard Jairus Lyles and Ryan Odom talking during at game at UMBC’s RAC. Photo credit to Pressbox.com

When I asked Odom why UMBC is the right fit for him he responded, “The simple answer to that is my parents always taught me you don’t mess with happiness. I am extremely happy here at UMBC. My kids enjoy the area. My wife enjoys the area”. He went on to praise UMBC and the leadership, “Dr. Hrabowski and the leadership team here have been nothing, but great to me. I felt like it would be an early call to move on from such a great place. I think the school’s values align with how I feel about college athletics; our priorities are in order”.

“My parents always taught me you don’t mess with happiness. I am extremely happy here at UMBC.” – Ryan Odom

I also spoke with Odom’s former boss Tim Hall who was the athletic director at UMBC for six years to find out his perspective. Hall said, “Ryan is not going to jump at the first thing because if it was about money and the first thing he would have been gone already”. Instead, he said the things that are important to Ryan are institutional leadership, athletic department leadership, conference, what kind of resources they put into the program, and is it a place his family would want to live. Hall continued to say, “He is a highly sought-after coach, and I said to people it’s not if he leaves UMBC, it’s when he leaves. I know he has goals and aspirations to do it at a higher level. He’s a competitor, but I know loves UMBC, and he loves living in the Baltimore region. From my perspective it would take a really special isolated opportunity that would pull him away from UMBC”. I asked Hall when he though the right opportunity would come around, he said, “I think there are schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference, SEC, and the Big Ten that will have changes in the next few years where Ryan will be on their list.”


Title picture is of former athletic director Tim Hall and UMBC coach Ryan Odom at Ryan’s introductory press conference. Photo is from UMBC.edu

In full disclosure this 500 word limit story was written for my Sports Media Formats Class at Valparaiso University taught by Paul Oren (@NWIOren), and is being posted to Happening Hoops as well as turned in for a graded assignment. 

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