Head coach job lands notable interest
Impressive names flood FGCU for main bball spot
Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 17, 2011 14:03
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been edited to reflect that Richard Pitino has shown interest in working with the men's basketball team.
Imagine a Pitino leading the Florida Gulf Coast University men's basketball team. Maybe not Rick Pitino, the legendary coach at Kentucky, Louisville and the New York Knicks.
But how about his son, Richard, an assistant coach at the University of Florida?
Does this sound realistic? Richard Pitino's name along with another 20 or so candidates, many with NBA connections, has been floated to FGCU athletic director Ken Kavanagh.
Through a public records request, Eagle News has learned of a wide-ranging group of candidates who have expressed interest in replacing Dave Balza.
The list includes Pitino, former NBA coach Eric Musselman, former NBA standouts and Division I coaches Kyle Macy and Jan van Breda Kolff, and former Iowa and Butler coach Todd Lickliter.
Kavanagh expressed mutual interest in Lickliter, who led Butler to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament twice. Macy, color commentator for University of Kentucky telecasts and former Morehead State head coach, spent seven years in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.
Before that, Macy was an All-American member of Kentucky's 1978 NCAA championship squad.
Pitino didn't personally express interest in the position.
Instead, the endorsement came from Dan Gavitt, associate commissioner for men's basketball of the Big East conference, to Kavanagh.
"I'd love to talk with you about Richard Pitino if you have interest in him. I think he's a terrific candidate for many reasons." Gavitt wrote Kavanagh in a March 3 e-mail.
Kavanagh didn't respond to many of the e-mails that included resumes and high-profile references.
As in the case of Gavitt, Kavanagh has even heard from agents and has responded with this email.
"I am old school and believe in direct contact with potential candidates and do not discuss such possible opportunities with intermediaries." Kavanagh wrote back to a representative for Musselman, former head coach of the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors of the NBA who was runner-up to Gregg Popovich in the 2002-03 NBA Coach of the Year voting.
Jan van Breda Kolff, son of coaching great Butch van Breda Kolff, enjoyed a eight-year playing career in the ABA and NBA in the mid 1970s and early 1980s.
He coached Cornell, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine and St. Bonaventure at the D1 level.
Big-name pursuers also include Joe Esposito, director of basketball operations under coaching legend Tubby Smith at Minnesota, who lists Smith and NBA veteran coach Flip Saunders (current coach of the Washington Wizards) as references; and Jeff Nix, who has worked with four of the five biggest coaches in NBA history: Pat Riley, Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens and Larry Brown.
Nix received national attention and acclaim for his integrity when, as director of scouting with the New York Knicks, he testified in a 2007 sexual harassment case against then-Knicks general manager Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden.
Then-Knicks' executive Anucha Browne Sanders sued Thomas and Madison Square Garden for sexual harassment.
Madison Square Garden was ordered to pay Browne Sanders $11.6 million.
After testifying against his employer, Nix was dismissed of his duties.
Other coaches who have expressed interest in the FGCU job, directly and indirectly, are listed as follows:
Former assistant coach of the Denver Nuggets. Former Division 1 assistant coach at Yale, George Washington, Air Force and Southern Methodist.
Coached Los Angeles Laker Shannon Brown and Los Angeles Clipper Jamario Moon in the NBA D-League.
Current assistant coach at Providence College of the Big East. Offensive coordinator for a unit that finished third in the nation in scoring last season. Lists Bruce Pearl as reference.
FGCU men's soccer coach Bob Butehorn sent a March 5 email to Kavanagh recommending Langel. Butehorn wrote, "This is the guy I was telling you about. He's a fantastic candidate for our position … if the salary works." Langel, one of the rising young coaches in the Atlantic 10 Conference, is in his fifth year as an assistant coach at Temple University.
Current associate head coach at Florida International University under NBA legend Isiah Thomas. Former assistant at University of Miami. Coached Miami Heat guard James Jones.
Current men's assistant coach at University of Alabama. Former head coach at University of Akron. Former assistant coach at USF and University of Arkansas.
Associate head coach at Appalachian State University. Former head coach at Gardner-Webb University.
Associate head coach at A-Sun champs Belmont.
Player/coach in Norway.
Assistant coach at Lipsomb University of the A-Sun.
Former head coach at Farleigh Dickinson University, where he led the team to a 407-351 record in 26 seasons at the helm.
FGCU Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh could not be reached Tuesday night for comment on any of the applicants.