Coaching Search Profile: Dane Fife

  • 03/22/2021 1:03 pm in

After four seasons in Bloomington, Archie Miller is out as Indiana’s head coach and Scott Dolson’s search for a new leader for the program is underway.

Inside the Hall will profile many of the candidates being discussed for the job over the coming days. Our seventh profile takes a look at Dane Fife.

Out of the names potentially being discussed as Indiana’s next coach, Dane Fife is among those with the strongest pre-existing ties to the Hoosiers.

Fife, who is currently an associate head coach at Michigan State, suited up for Indiana from 1998-2002, playing under the tutelage of both Bob Knight and Mike Davis. The 6-foot 4-inch guard finished his career at Indiana averaging 5.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Fife still holds Indiana’s program record for all-time steals with 180.

In the 2001-02 season, Fife’s senior year, he helped lead the Hoosiers to capture a share of the Big Ten regular-season title as well as a national championship game appearance against Maryland, where Indiana ultimately fell short.

That season was Fife’s most productive during his career at IU. He was awarded co-Big Ten defensive player of the year as he racked up 53 steals, the eighth-best in a single-season at Indiana. He also knocked down better than 47 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, ranking sixth in program history for a single-season. Fife is also tied for sixth all-time in games played in program history.

After playing one season in the CBA, Fife joined Davis’ staff at Indiana as an assistant for two seasons.

In 2005, Fife took a head coaching position at IPFW (now Purdue Fort Wayne). In his first season, Fife led IPFW to 10 wins, the most since the program moved into Division I ranks in 2001. In Fife’s fifth season, IPFW notched a winning record for the first time at the Division I level.

Prior to the 2010-11 campaign, Fife’s name was floated as a potential candidate for assistant coaching spots at Indiana under Tom Crean and Michigan under John Beilein. Instead, Fife stayed at IPFW and guided the team to an 18-12 record.

After that season, Fife was a potential candidate to join Matt Painter at Purdue, but turned down the offer. Later that year, Fife accepted an assistant coaching position under Tom Izzo at Michigan State.

Fife has now been in East Lansing for the last ten seasons. He was promoted to associate head coach before the start of the 2018-19 season. He’s worked with a host of NBA players like Miles Bridges, Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes, Gary Harris, Jaren Jackson Jr., Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. The Spartans have reached the Final Four twice in his tenure at Michigan State.

In 2017, Fife was in consideration for the head coaching position at Duquesne, but it eventually fell through. His name was also mentioned for the opening at Indiana, however, Fred Glass ultimately chose Archie Miller.

Now, Fife’s name has come up again as Indiana parted ways with Miller after four seasons, but he does not currently appear to be in the top tier of candidates being considered. He does, however, have a name recognized by Indiana fans and a link the program’s past with Knight. He also has experience with a blue-blood program, plenty of experience in the Big Ten and is only 41 years old.

But it remains a concern that Fife’s only head coaching experience was at IPFW, where he tallied an overall record of 82-97. It’s unlikely that Scott Dolson will take a chance on another coach that’s unproven at the high-major level after it failed to work out with Miller.

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