The View from Pluto: A New Record for Kent State Basketball Coach

Jan 9, 2019

Kent State University men’s basketball coach Rob Senderoff is in the record books -- at least as far as the school is concerned.  He's recorded 150 wins, the most in school history. Sports commentator Terry Pluto joined WKSU’s Andrew Meyer to talk about what this means to the coach, the school and Division I basketball.


Rob Senderoff is now the coach with the most wins in school history. While Pluto said that some coaches achieve that honor after a long tenure at the school, he said that is not the case with Senderoff.

“He’s won about two thirds of his games, four times he’s won twenty games, he’s went to the NCAA tournament once,” Pluto said. “And he’s kind of another very good coach in what Kent State, really since the year 2000, has had – a line of very strong basketball coaches.”

Rob Senderoff, Kent State men's basketball head coach
Credit KENT STATE UNIVERSITY

The previous school record, held by Jim McDonald, was 148-139. McDonald coached KSU basketball from 1982 until his retirement in 1992.

“[McDonald is] old school, brick tough defense, a wonderful man,” Pluto said of the former coach.

After McDonald retired, Pluto said the team struggled. That changed in 2000, when Gary Waters was hired as head coach. Under Waters, the team went to the NCAA Tournament twice. When Waters left to coach at Rutgers University, Stan Heath took the coaching reigns, and the team reached the Elite 8. Heath left after one year at KSU to coach at the University of Arkansas.

“And then a guy named Jim Christian came in,” Pluto said. “Rob Senderoff was hired to come in with Jim Christian, as an assistant coach.”

Senderoff’s career has not always been marked with success. After a few years with Kent State, Senderoff left to be an assistant coach at Indiana University. In 2007, Senderoff resigned alongside head coach Kelvin Sampson for making improper phone calls to basketball recruits.

“Guys in the business call it ‘knucklehead cheating,’” Pluto said.

The NCAA invoked a “show cause” penalty on Senderoff, which means a team must essentially vouch for him if they intend to hire him. If he violated NCAA rules again, Kent State would have also been penalized.

“He was sort of scarlet-lettered,” Pluto added. “[Former Athletic Director Laing Kennedy] brought Rob back.”

Senderoff was an assistant coach for three years until head coach Geno Ford left to coach at Bradley University. Senderoff became head coach after Ford’s departure.

“Rob has done a really, I think, good job establishing himself maybe as a coach that’s going to stay in the MAC for a while,” Pluto said.

Pluto said he wonders if, back in 2008 when he was re-hired at Kent State, anyone would have expected Senderoff to become the record-holder for wins in school history.

“I don’t think anybody said it, so congrats Rob,” Pluto said.