Friday, August 10, 2007

Coaching Carousal Part 384: Last Call?

Ball State officially ended the Ronny Thompson era when they hired Lehigh's HC Billy Taylor. Taylor compiled a 81-69 record in 5 seasons at Lehigh. He, like Thompson, had a scrape with the rules committee. In 2004-05 Lehigh forfeited 14 games due to an ineligible player. Meanwhile back at Ball State, more allegations surfaced about the Ronny Thompson regime. The NCAA will expand their investigation. IUPUI's HC Ron Hunter managed to parlay his brief status as the frontrunner for the Ball State job into a raise and contract extension at IUPUI.

Wake Forest tabbed Dino Guadio to succeed to Skip Prosser who passed away July 26. Guadio, one of the three Prosser assistants who interviewed for job, was promoted over associate head coach Jeff Battle and assistant Pat Kelsey. Wake's AD, Ron Wellman, decided early on to promote from within the program rather than conduct an open ended search. The move will no doubt help the Deacons hold onto the outstanding class of recruits that Prosser and his staff assembled for next season. Guadio had 2 previous stints as a D1 head coach. While at Army he compiled a 36-72 record in 4 seasons and Loyola of Maryland, where he compiled a 32-52 record in 3 seasons.

The East Carolina shuffle appears to be more an in house cleanup operation than a regime change. East Carolina coach Ricky Stokes (fired as head coach of Virginia Tech several years ago) was, after compiling a 14-44 record in 2 seasons as the Pirate HC, moved upstairs to Assistant AD. Interesting no? Stokes it turns out was the point guard for several Virginia teams coached by now East Carolina AD Terry Holland. Holland brought Stokes in after he became AD at East Carolina. Mack McCarthy, a former HC at Tennessee-Chattanooga and assistant under Stokes, was promoted to the vacancy the same day as Stokes was promoted.

To date (8/9/2007) 59 head coaching jobs have been vacated; 58 have been filled (Lehigh remains open due to Taylor's resignation). There are eight reasons for the vacancies created this during the season and off season...

  1. The coach was fired (before his contract expired). 23 (39.0%).
  2. The coach was asked to resign, usually after a program review. 8 (13.6%).
  3. The coach's contract was not extended. 5 (8.5%)
  4. The coach took another position within the organization (not at the coach's initiative). 2 (3.4%)
  5. The coach accepted a position with another employer. These were almost always (excepting Buzz Peterson) another coaching position, either in the NBA (Reggie Theus) or another D1 school. 18 (30.5%).
  6. The coach retired (Tom Davis). 1 (1.7%).
  7. The coach resigned without notice (Ronny Thompson). 1 (1.7%).
  8. The coach died (Skip Prosser). 1 (1.7%).

Vacancies created for any of the first four reasons were initiated by the college/university. These account for 38 (64.4%) of the vacancies. The second group of 4 reasons account for 21 (35.6%) of the vacancies. Whether the vacancy is initiated by the school or the coach was a matter of timing. I grouped the vacancies by date initiated...

  • During the regular season (about 2/27)
  • After the regular season and before the beginning of the NCAAs.
  • During the NCAAs.
  • After the tournament but before the Spring Signing period (May 15).
  • After the Spring Signing period (after May 15).

As the table below illustrates, the largest number of vacancies (67.8%) were created before the National Champion was crowned.

University InitiatedCoach Initiated

<Sp LOI112000900018.6%
>Sp LOI81001401113.6%


Collapsing the categories (the table below) highlights the swing that took place on April 2. Explanations for the timing and dramatic NC game switch is commonsensical -- firings, requested resignations and decisions to refrain from extending the contract are made as a product of a post season program review. The decision to change coaches was no doubt considered as part of preparation for the post season interview with the head coach. By reputation the Regional Finals and Final Four second as job fairs. For the Athletic Director who is searching for a successor, the temptation to survey and interview during those weekends has to be very strong. After the National Championship game however, the intiative swings to the Head Coach.

During Regular Season440100.0%0.0%
Before Selection Sunday17170100.0%0.0%
During NCAAs1913668.4%31.6%
Before Spring Signing112918.2%81.8%
After Spring Signing82625.0%75.0%

The eight vacancies created after the beginning of the Spring Signing Period (roughly May 15) were largely (though not exclusively...) coach initiated. Whether by death (Prosser) or resignation (Peterson, Thompson, Taylor, etc.), it was the coach who moved on. In those cases where the school took the initiative, the successor appears to have been identified and possibly engaged before the replacement was executed (St. Louis, East Carolina). Schools after the signing date appear to be far more cautious about changing regimes.

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