USF Athletics Director Lee Roy Selmon has started trolling the waters of the coaching pond to fill the void in the men’s basketball head coaching position.
So far, several candidates have come forward, by word of mouth, application or rumor.
Many wish lists have been calling for a top-name candidate such as former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin, but the financial restrictions USF has will prohibit that from happening.
“Right now, I’m just kind of basing off and using what’s in my budget and so forth. I’m just going to be honest and truthful about what your university can do because that gets into another conversation down the road so people can evaluate for themselves. They might think you will be a good fit for us, but they have to think you will be a good fit for them.
“($200,000-$300,000 a year for a coach) is not in the coffers — nowhere, to be honest with you. It’s not there, but you get donors and things like that that make things possible.”
The candidate would most likely be an assistant, who would be anxious to take on a head coaching position and not need more money to leave his current head coaching job, such as Jim Christian of Kent State, Dereck Whittenburg of Wagner or Todd Lickliter of Butler.
“We’re early enough where we are getting info, and I’d say right now, you are assessing interests,” Selmon said. “Todd is a head coach, he is a sitting head coach. He’s got a job, and he’s successful, so I would still need to gauge this process after weeding through these resumes narrowing the list down. If Todd is that person, I don’t know. At this point, I could not say.”
Selmon has started sorting through the names and researching each candidate but has only contacted two of the 20 or more possibilities.
Anthony Grant, the associate head coach at Florida, and David Zimroth, a USF assistant, have met with Selmon for preliminary talks.
“David is right here, so it’s kind of easy just to speak with him,” Selmon said. “He’s familiar with the program, and I got an inquiry call about Grant really early, and it happened real quick, so it was pretty easy to make that inquiry as well.”
The parties have met not for an official interview, but just to meet and determine interests.
“I got to shake a hand, see a face and just kind of determine a level of interest,” Selmon said. “You get a lot of calls from all over the place, from this person, that person, this person. You get a hundred of them, so I think until you can actually talk with the person, that’s the first thing you want to know: if you’re really interested, or is it just people making recommendations.”
Since Seth Greenberg left for Virginia Tech one week ago, USF has received 17 applications and has yet to make contact with coaches or athletic directors regarding interviews.
“I think that this initial stage that I am in now, that is just the research and inquiring stage,” Selmon said. “Well, I won’t set a deadline on any portion of it right now. We’re so early in it, and it’s my first time through, so I don’t have a gameplan that I have in place on the shelf anywhere.”
Before a decision can be made on whom to interview, the applications must be sorted through and athletic directors need to be contacted.
“There’s definitely an interest, but I haven’t spoken with anyone yet about the head coaching vacancy,” Georgetown assistant coach Ronald Thompson said Tuesday.
Thompson, the son of legendary Hoyas coach John Thompson, is one of seven assistant coaches to pursue the position. One high school coach, Ronald Abernathy of Dixie Hollins in St. Petersburg, and 12 head coaches have either sent applications or been mentioned.
Assistants and head coaches will be given the same value during the search, but Selmon is seeking someone with energy to lead the Bulls.
“(I hope who ever would) come in would have their own ideas,” Selmon said. “Most all of (the head coaches) were (assistant coaches). That’s why I value someone who is energetic, that’s excited about an opportunity, and to me, that kind of lends itself to stay open to an assistant coach as a candidate.
With a limit on the salary he can offer and excitement for the position being a prime factor, it seems likely that Selmon will go the route of an assistant coach to take over the Bulls.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Selmon said. “You talk about the financial side and maybe someone won’t require those big numbers. Maybe it’s not what that person over there is getting or maybe it’s not what (they) want to make, but (they) can’t pass up this opportunity because it’s a great one.”
One of the applications to come across Selmon’s desk was from Maryland assistant Dave Dickerson, who has been interested in a head coaching job for some time, including recently interviewing for the opening at Clemson.
“It’s been my goal to be a head coach, and I’m flattered to be mentioned when people discuss different openings,” Dickerson said Wednesday. “The opportunity at South Florida would be intriguing.”
Along with assistant coaches, another possibility for USF is a candidate with a familiar name, such as applicants Sidney Green or Butch Beard.
Green, who did not comment on the vacant position Tuesday, is the coach at Florida Atlantic and played in the NBA from 1983-93, including a season as captain of the Orlando Magic in 1989.
Beard was also an NBA player from 1969-78 and was a member of the 1974-75 Golden State Warriors NBA Championship team. Beard also was a head coach of the New Jersey Nets.
“They are all pretty exciting,” Selmon said. “They all reflect great accomplishments in their careers, and so forth. They are all impressive resumes.”
So far in his search, Selmon has sorted through the resumes and has not called or made contact with any of the candidates and is not certain when he will start.
“I’m going to let it just kind of evolve itself,” Selmon said. “I want to be prudent in the process. What that means is there is not a time line when I’m going to have it done by a certain time.
“I want to work as quickly and efficiently as I can until the point where there is an offer made, and someone accepts it.”
Bryan Fazio covers USF men’s basketball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org