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A big loss for Duke as associate head coach Jeff Capel takes Pitt job

Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel III has agreed to be the next head coach of Pittsburgh, according to four sources close the basketball programs at Duke and Pitt.

Pittsburgh's athletic director Heather Lyke confirmed the hire in a press release Tuesday afternoon.

"Coach Capel is a high-energy leader committed to being a part of our university and the city of Pittsburgh," she said in the release. "He has a tremendous basketball pedigree and a strong track record of recruiting, developing and mentoring high-quality student-athletes."

Capel's departure is a huge loss for Duke. He has been the associate head coach at Duke since 2011.

Capel, 43, was Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski's lead recruiter on the staff. Duke has had the No. 1 recruiting class four of the past five years (2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018). He has helped secure commitments from 19 McDonald's All-Americans.

"I am honored to be named the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh men's basketball program," Capel said in a press release. "Pitt has a great tradition of success and I look forward to putting together a staff and team that will enable us to build on that tradition. As a lifelong Steelers fan, I know Pittsburgh as the 'City of Champions' and our goal from day one will be to recruit, coach and develop champions on the court, in the classroom and in the community."

Prior to becoming associate head coach at Duke, Capel was a head coach at Oklahoma from 2006 to 2011, and head coach at Virginia Commonwealth from 2002 to 2006.

“Pittsburgh just made an amazing hire to lead its men’s basketball program," Krzyzewski said in a press release. "Having come from a proud basketball family, Jeff Capel is one of the most dynamic coaches in the country. He possesses championship-level experience as both a head and assistant coach, as well as distinct knowledge of the Atlantic Coast Conference that will benefit Pitt immediately."

Capel was expected to be a leading candidate for the Duke head coach position when Krzyzewski retires. Krzyzewski has not indicated when that will be.

"I would hope that when my time comes that it’s someone who has played here and has worked for me," Krzyzewski told The News & Observer in December. "And we have a lot of people, including the guys who are on the staff now, where they would understand Duke. And understand the history."

Capel has served as Duke's interim head coach when Krzyzewski has missed time. Last season, Capel filled in for seven games, while Krzyzewski recovered from back surgery. This season, he coached one game, while Krzyzewski recovered from a virus. And in 2016, Capel stepped in for one game after Krzyzewski fell ill.

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Duke acting head coach Jeff Capel disputes a call during the first half of N.C. State's game against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Ethan Human ehyman@newsobserver.com

Capel was also a point guard at Duke from 1993 to 1997. At Duke, Capel was a four-year starter. He finished his career at Duke with 1,601 points, 433 assists and 220 3-point field goals.

"On a personal note, I want to thank Jeff for being directly by my side for the past seven years and completely committed to our mission at Duke and with USA Basketball," Krzyzewski said in the release. "His insight, passion for the game, relationships with our players, and most importantly, his friendship have meant the world to me and my family. Jeff, Kanika and their wonderful children Cameron, Sydney and Elijah will represent the University of Pittsburgh at the highest level and with the utmost class and integrity."

Pitt fired its head coach Kevin Stallings in March after two seasons. Nine Panthers players requested a transfer after the season.

Alexander, 919-829-4822; @jonmalexander
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