June 29, 2006
MOUNT PLEASANT (from Central Michigan University) - Three months after helping lead UCLA to the NCAA title game, Ernie Zeigler has been tabbed to help lead the Central Michigan University Chippewas back to the top of the Mid-American Conference.
CMU Athletics Director Dave Heeke introduced Zeigler (zig-ler) as the Chippewas' new men's basketball coach today at a press conference in the Indoor Athletic Complex.
"Ernie brings a wealth of experience to our program and the championship culture we are building at CMU," Heeke said. "His roots are in Detroit and he has strong ties to the Midwest and the state of Michigan. Ernie is well known as one of the best recruiters in the country. His vision for our program focuses on the student-athlete and will provide an environment for our players to be successful both athletically and academically. We are thrilled to have Ernie and his family join the CMU family."
Zeigler, 40, spent the last five seasons as an assistant under Ben Howland at both Pittsburgh (2002-03) and UCLA (2004-06). The programs achieved great success with Zeigler on staff as Pitt reached the NCAA Sweet 16 both years and finished 2003 with a final Associated Press ranking of No. 4. The 2002 squad won a school-record 29 games while the 2003 team captured the Big East Tournament championship. Both years the Panthers won the Big East West Division championship.
When Howland took the UCLA job, Zeigler joined the Bruins' staff and helped the team to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances the last two years. This past March, the No. 2 seeded Bruins advanced to the NCAA championship game but fell to Florida, 73-57. UCLA won the 2006 Pac-10 regular season and tournament championships.
Each of the past three years, UCLA has had a top 15-ranked recruiting class - fourth by Rivals.com in 2004, 13th by Scout.com in 2005 and sixth by FoxSports.com in 2006. The Bruins' staff recruited three McDonald's All-Americans in the three years Zeigler was on staff - Arron Afflalo, Jordan Farmar and James Keefe.
Prior to joining Howland's staff, Zeigler had one-year stints at Kansas State (2000) and Bowling Green (2001).
Zeigler has three seasons of head coaching experience overseas. He was named the Chinese Basketball Alliance Coach of the Year in 1997 after leading the Henan Wildcats to their first winning season and a playoff berth. Zeigler then coached the Al-Halil Club of the Saudi Arabian Basketball Federation to back-to-back Final Four appearances and the 1999 SABF championship. There he compiled a 41-13 record.
Zeigler began his coaching career under his former prep coach, Robert Menefee, at his alma mater, Detroit Cody High School. Zeigler was an assistant at Cody from 1990-96; in four of those six seasons, Cody was ranked among the top 10 Class A teams in the state of Michigan. Detroit Cody reached the state quarterfinals in 1992 and won the Detroit Public School League West Division championship in 1993.
From 1992 to 1997, Zeigler was the head AAU coach for Team Detroit. He guided all six squads to the state AAU Final Four and the 1994 squad reached the national AAU quarterfinals. In 1995 and 1997, Team Detroit advanced to the adidas Big Time Tournament quarterfinals.
Zeigler received a bachelor's degree in business management from Cleary College (Ypsilanti, Mich.) in 1994. He played collegiately at Schoolcraft College (Livonia, Mich.) from 1984-86, Armstrong Atlantic State University (Savannah, Ga.) from 1986-87 and Northwood University (Midland, Mich.) from 1987-88.
Ernie and his wife, Seantelle, have two children, Trey (15) and Skylar (9).
Zeigler is the 19th coach in CMU men's basketball history. He replaces Jay Smith who resigned in May after leading the Chippewas for the past nine years. CMU won two MAC regular season titles and the 2003 MAC Tournament under Smith.