Saturday, June 6, 2009

Coaching Carousal Part 5: Last Turns?

Expecting the Unexpected
As of the close of the Spring signing period (May 15 this off season) only the Texas Pan-American's head coaching job was unfilled. The Broncs drew from the DII ranks and hired Ryan Marks, head coach of St. Edwards University (TX) to head up the men's basketball program on May 27th. That should have closed the book on coaching changes this off season...but for the inevitable, but unexpected, turn. This off season saw a twist similar to the St. Louis job turnover in 2007. The Billikens "released" Brad Soderberg two days into the Spring signing period (April 17) and replaced him 10 days later with Rick Majerus, surprisingly late in the cycle. This off season Fairleigh Dickinson University fired their coach of 26 years, Tom Green (as gracious as the press release was worded, AD David Langford did say the decision was his, not Green's & he had decided "...there needed to be a change months ago..."). Langford cited the fiscal calendar as the determining factor, a tacit acknowledgment that the economy may be having an impact not only on the decision(s) to retain (other) coaches, but it may also affect the timing of the changes. Bret Campbell's resignation as head coach of the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks on June 4 was more typical (though very regrettable) for coaching changes at this point in the off season. Campbell decided to resign after an internal audit revealed he had co-mingled funds from the Tennessee-Martin off season basketball camp with personal funds in violation of the school's policy.

By the Numbers
The 28 turnovers (8.1%) in DI coaching circles this off season represents the lowest point in a two year trend. The 2007 off season saw 60 coaching (17.9% of the DI coaching positions) turnovers, while 2008 saw 43 (12.6%) turnovers. Consistent with the past two seasons, the period of the NCAA tournament was the most active for turnovers. This year, possibly reflecting the economic downturn, over 57% of the vacancies were created during the three week period of the Tournament. An unsettling trend over the past two seasons has been the turnover during the season -- in both 2008 and 2009 approximately 15% of the vacancies have been created during the regular basketball season. An overwhelming 10 of the 12 turnovers (83.3%) in those seasons was employer-initiated. The lagging economy represents unfamiliar ground this off season. Couple the contracting economy with the expanding ranks of DI basketball (144 teams in 2008-09, up from 136 in 2006-07 -- a 6% expansion over 2 seasons, with more to come), and we may have a few more coaching vacancies both during this off season, and in the season to come.

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