Coaching carousel slows down amid coronavirus concerns

Coaching carousel slows down amid coronavirus concerns

On March 11, Western Michigan announced it was changing coaches in men’s basketball. The following day, the NCAA Tournament was canceled, and the enormity of the coronavirus crisis started to hit home throughout college sports.

Before long, WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard was dealing with restrictions on travel and external hires, and it was obvious this would not be a normal coaching search. The Broncos ultimately hired Clayton Bates, an experienced assistant from the previous staff.

“We knew him. He knew us,” Beauregard said. “There was really not much of a learning curve.”

When the virus abruptly ended the college basketball season last month, it did more than just wipe out tournament games. The coaching carousel has virtually stopped spinning.

In many cases, schools are simply standing pat. For programs that did make changes, the pandemic made coaching searches logistically difficult.

According to coachesdatabase.com, 22 Division I schools have made coaching changes in men’s basketball this season. That includes some moves made well before the virus became a widespread problem in the U.S. In a normal season, there might be 40-60 coaching changes.

None of the schools in the AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC has made a change, so the usual domino effect — in which those schools poach mid-major coaches, creating other openings — hasn’t happened.

Several factors may be at play. The loss of revenue from the canceled NCAA Tournament and uncertainty about the lucrative football season in the fall leave athletic directors anticipating a financial crunch.

“There’s a lot that goes into it, to making that change,” said Daniel Parker of Parker Executive Search, a firm that helps with coaching searches. “How much do I owe my current coach? How much is it going to cost me to go buy out another coach? … And then you’re going to have to pay a competitive salary.”

Schools often wait until the end of the season before letting coaches go. When this season was halted, some mid-major programs like WMU were already done, but some of the biggest conferences were just starting their league tournaments.

Boston College went 13-19 this season but kept coach Jim Christian.

Martin Jarmond, the Eagles’ athletic director, told the Boston Globe: “There’s uncertainty when we’re going to have students back on campus, there’s uncertainty about graduation, there’s uncertainty about the fall. With so much uncertainty, I just feel it’s important to have stability in your leadership.”

By the time Western Michigan hired Bates, the school had halted new, external hires. WMU’s press release announcing Bates’ promotion noted the athletic department would be spending $165,000 less on its coach this coming season.

That was a clear sign that the school was aware of the financial implications of its decision.

“I know it’s the new normal for us. I would say that I think it’s going to be a new normal across the country,” Beauregard said. “I do think you’re not going to find, across the country, the same intercollegiate athletic world that we’ve been in. And maybe that’s not all bad.”

IUPUI coach Jason Gardner resigned in August following an arrest on drunken driving charges. Byron Rimm has been the interim coach, and amid recent restrictions on travel and hiring, the search for a long-term replacement is on hold.

Athletic director Roderick Perry said he had spoken to coaches about the position, but nobody had been offered the job. He said the school was taking things “day by day” and candidates have been patient.

“There's only about 350 Division I programs, and we have one of the jobs,” he said.

Samford was eliminated from the Southern Conference Tournament on March 6. Ten days later, the school announced coach Scott Padgett would not be back. Bucky McMillan, a successful coach at a high school only a few miles away, got the job.

The search was certainly different. Interviews were conducted via phone or online.

“I’m a big believer in body language. That’s difficult to do when you can’t do it in person,” Samford AD Martin Newton said. “We were fortunate in the fact that we did have familiarity with one another. He knew our university and we knew him.”

Georgia Southern AD Jared Benko didn't have that kind of knowledge before he hired Texas Tech assistant Brian Burg.

“Jared, the first time he ever met Brian was when they both showed up in Statesboro … after they had announced the hire,” Parker said. “Of course, he talked to him five or six times by Zoom and phone.”

At least the technology has progressed enough to make remote coaching searches possible, not that it's easy.

“There’s definitely not any books or anything that can teach you how to hire somebody during a pandemic,” Newton said. “It’s definitely an interesting time to hire a coach.”

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

___

AP Sports Writer John Zenor contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2020/04/15/coaching-carousel-slows-down-amid-coronavirus-concerns/111551252/

News Related

ORTHER NEWS

Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »