Ralph Willard

Ralph Willard (born March 28, 1946)

Teams coached: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Pittsburgh Panthers, Holy Cross Crusaders
Western Kentucky record: 81-42 (.659)
Pittsburgh record: 63-82 (.434)
Holy Cross record: 192-117 (.621)
Overall record: 336-241 (.582)

Career Accomplishments:


Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

2010-2011 Louisville (DBO)
2009-2010 Louisville (assoc. HC)
1999-2009 Holy Cross
1994-1999 Pittsburgh
1990-1994 Western Kentucky
1989-1990 Kentucky (assoc. HC)
1987-1989 New York Knicks (asst)
1986-1987 Syracuse (asst)
1984-1986 Hofstra (asst)

Ralph Willard Facts

  • Ralph Daniel Willard
  • Born March 28, 1946
  • Hometown: Oyster Bay, New York
  • Alma Mater: College of the Holy Cross (BA, 1967)
  • Played basketball at Holy Cross under head coaches Frank Oftring and Jack Donohue
  • Spent 13 seasons coaching at his alma mater, St. Dominic HS (Oyster Bay, NY); won a NY State Championship in 1980
  • First collegiate jobs were as an assistant to Dick Berg at Hofstra and to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse; his one year at Cuse was 1986-87, when the Orange were NCAA Runners-Up
  • Willard worked under Rick Pitino for the first time from 1987-89 as an assistant with the New York Knicks; he then followed Pitino to Kentucky in 1989 to spend one season as his associate head coach
  • Hired as the Western Kentucky head coach in 1990, winning 81 games in four seasons and appearing in 2 NCAA Tournaments; the 1993 Hilltoppers made a surprise run to the Sweet Sixteen after beating 2-seed Seton Hall
  • Spent five seasons as the Pittsburgh head coach, going 63-82 with just one postseason appearance (1997 NIT)
  • Returned to his alma mater, Holy Cross, in 1999 and spent the next ten seasons as the Crusaders’ head coach
  • Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005, which he was able to recover from; underwent open heart surgery in 2008, which he also recovered from and was able to return to coaching
  • Spent one year on Pitino‘s staff at Louisville as associate head coach and then one more as Director of Basketball Ops
  • After two years in a consulting role at Holy Cross, Willard became a scout for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder
    • Forced to take a medical leave in 2015 after signing another contract with the team
  • Inducted into the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 2021 in recognition of his years playing and coaching there
  • Along with his wife, Dorothy, has one daughter and two sons

Ralph Willard Coaching Tree