COLUMBIA, Mo. - Kim Anderson has had his sights on becoming the head coach at University of Missouri since he was an assistant under Norm Stewart in the 1980s.
Now, he'll finally get the opportunity to lead the Tigers.
Anderson, who also played under Stewart from 1973-77, was introduced as the 18th men's basketball coach in school history at a press conference Tuesday morning at the Reynolds Alumni Center.
"This is my dream job," Anderson said while addressing a capacity crowd. "You all probably figured that out a long time ago. I am Mizzou through and through. This is my home state, this is my alma mater and I know how special this program is to so many people. It holds that same significance to me."
A native of Sedalia, Anderson replaces Frank Haith, who left Missouri to take the head coaching job at Tulsa.
Following Haith's departure, Missouri athletic director Mike Alden contracted Collegiate Sports Associates to develop a candidates list. Anderson was the last man standing.
"We had to have someone who was a proven winner," Alden said. "And in particular if you look at this as we talk about this today; a person who has won as a player at an extremely high level, a person that won as an assistant at an extremely high level, a person who won as a head coach, a person that won conference championships, a national championship and was actually a national coach of the year."
Anderson was interviewed as a replacement for Stewart, who retired in 1999, but Alden hired Quin Snyder instead. The 58-year-old Anderson didn't think he would ever get a chance to fulfill his dream.
"There's so many things that have to happen for a guy like me to be the head coach at one of the greatest universities in the country," Anderson said. "Not that I didn't think I couldn't do it, or not that I thought that I got slighted or anything like that. I just felt like I probably wouldn't get that chance."
Anderson admitted he wasn't ready to lead the program the first time the position became available.
"As I look back, and I'm not saying this to brown-nose the AD, I wouldn't have hired me either in 1999," he said. "I wasn't ready. I don't think I was prepared to run a basketball program. I think there were just a lot of things I still needed to learn."
But after proving himself at the University of Central Missouri for the last 12 years, Anderson emerged as the successor to Haith.
"Kim is a proven winner," Missouri chancellor Bowen Loftin said in a statement. "He is a perfect fit for Mizzou. He is a positive reflection of who we are, now and into the future."
Anderson left coaching for three years after the 1999 season, becoming the Big 12's director of basketball operations and later an assistant commissioner. He returned to the bench in 2002, where he compiled a 274-94 in 12 season as the head coach at Central Missouri.
The 1977 Big 8 Player of the Year led the Mules to a Division II national title this past season while earning National Coach of the Year honors.
"We believe, as he demonstrated during his entire coaching career, particularly his recent 12 seasons at the University of Central Missouri, that Kim has proven himself to be a very competitive coach who will lead our team to many victories, on the court and off the court," Missouri deputy chancellor Michael Middleton said. "We truly appreciate of all candidates for this position, but we believe that we found the best basketball coach to lead our great basketball program."
Roughly 10 names were considered early in the hiring process, and by last weekend, three had emerged as finalists. Anderson stood out the most.
"I really think, for this time, I think I was the right pick," Anderson said. "Obviously, winning a national championship was key and I'm so grateful for those young men that I was able to coach. I think this is just the right time, the right fit."
Still, Anderson is aware of the skepticism regarding his hiring. He found that out Monday.
"Any time a new coach comes in, there (will) be some questions," Anderson said. "I understand that - I know there will be a lot of questions. I've heard some of them already - about my age, my ability to recruit, our staff and my Division I head-coaching experience. These are some of the things I've learned in the past 24 hours. Apparently, I'm old."
Despite what critics say, Anderson is confident in his ability to recruit and plans to bring in a high-caliber coaching staff "that can attract elite Division I talent."
He also noted he won that national championship after adding 10 new players at Central Missouri for the 2013-14 season.
"We did a pretty good job on the recruiting trail, but one of the most important things with recruiting goes back to your core values," Anderson said. "You're going to love those young men as your own, you're going to coach them everyday in your life and you're going to demand to get the best out of them so that they can reach their true potential. That's recruiting."
As for his age?
"It may be 2014, but smart, disciplined, hard-nosed, team basketball never goes out of style," Anderson said. "That's the only way we know how to do it here. That style of play embodies our state and our fans, and that's what we are going to try to bring back."
Anderson's salary is still being finalized, but he will make at least $1.1 million per season on a five-year deal.
Alden said Anderson's annual base salary will be $300,000 with an additional $800,000 in guaranteed money. He will also receive $100,000 per year in deferred money, along with incentives, that could push his salary abour $2 million to a maximum of $2.4 million per year.
"I'm excited to be your head basketball coach," Anderson said. "This is a dream come true for me and my family. There's no place on Earth that I would rather be than Columbia, Missouri. There's no other group of players I would rather work with than our current roster wearing the Black and Gold."