Sac State men’s basketball set to launch search for next coach

Brandon Laird to be given fair shot at securing the job


Jordan Latimore

Interim head coach Brandon Laird walking near the bench Thurs., Feb. 26, 2022 against the Idaho Vandals. Laird is being considered heavily for the head coaching vacancy if he chooses to apply.

Jordan Latimore

Going through an identity crisis is not a foreign concept for the Sacramento State men’s basketball team.

With their season ending in a crushing loss to the Big Sky champions, the Montana State Bobcats in the 2022 Big Sky tournament, it’s easy to say the Hornets have a lot to figure out as a program – and it starts with who’s driving the ship; the head coach. 

The Hornets are in a tricky spot. 

After long-time tenured coach Brian Katz retired at the beginning of the season, Sac State athletic director Mark Orr appointed long-time associate head coach Brandon Laird to serve as interim head coach. 

Though the results were somewhat of a mixed bag, there were still some positive signs.

RELATED: How we got here: Sac State men’s basketball on four-game losing streak

Despite Laird finishing below .500 in the team’s overall and in-conference record in a season that also included multiple losing streaks, the team finished the year strong by winning five of their last six games including a win against Idaho in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament. 

With all of the ups and downs of the season, Laird was given a year’s audition, and Orr has something to evaluate. 

So, what’s next?


Interim head coach Brandon Laird at practice Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, in The Nest. The men’s basketball program has officially opened an application for the next head coach. (Jordan Latimore)


For any sports program, it all starts with who is at the helm and for Hornets, the current stance is that they don’t know who the person is going to be and they probably won’t for a while.

According to Orr, who will head the hiring process along with a search committee, he plans to take his time and embark on an extensive process with finding the next person to lead this program.

“I’m gonna do my due diligence and put forth my little efforts and use every resource,” Orr said. “I have every network. I have every person I know in the basketball community, my staff here at the university, to really do a thorough search for our next coach, whether that’s an internal person or an external person, we’re gonna get after it.”

To Orr’s knowledge, he isn’t even sure if Coach Laird has applied for the position which was officially posted last Friday; the day after the team’s loss to the Bobcats. 

“I don’t know for sure if Brandon’s [coach Laird] applying,” said Orr. “[The application] literally just hit the website I think on Friday or Saturday, I don’t know if anybody’s applied yet, I anticipate that there will be a lot of interest.”

Orr says that the current state of the search process is primarily just analyzing the past season and how things were developed over the year.

[We’re] currently assessing this past season just evaluating how the season went and getting feedback from the student-athletes, coaching staff, all those types of things,” Orr said. “We’ll do that this week, and then obviously we’ll also be beginning the search.”

Though Orr does acknowledge the promising potential of Laird as a candidate, he assures that the hiring search will evaluate every possibility.

“One is reflecting on this past season and then the second part is what’s best for the future of Sacramento state basketball,” Orr said.

While Orr iterates that he and his team are still in the early stages of the process, the outside noise has already well arrived. 

After the conclusion of the season, some people inside and out of the Sac State program took to social media in support of Laird, petitioning for him to be retained by the program. This includes the former senior captain and all-conference forward Bryce Fowler who played his best season under Laird.




Coach Laird also has the full support of his coaching staff behind him as the search gets underway.

“Coach Laird led with his heart, first and foremost,  he was persistent when he needed to be, he demanded a certain winning standard,” assistant coach Sam Kirby said. “But ultimately he wanted this team to play with joy and to play for each other, that message rang through time and time again [and] our guys responded.”

Kirby says that he was extremely grateful to have spent his first season with the program under Laird’s tenure.

“[Laird’s] more than qualified and capable of taking this program to new heights, I was blessed to work beside him this season,” Kirby said. “It was awesome to be a part of, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything, he 100% has my full support.”

Who the next coach will be is still unknown, but the pieces are moving, and now it’s just the waiting game until Orr starts finalizing his decisions.