OUA Basketball

Brock University coaching search shrouded in secrecy

By Bernie Puchalski, St. Catharines Standard

Brock University has become very secretive in its quest to replace Brad Rootes as the coach of the university’s men’s basketball team.

When asked this week, Brock athletic director Robert Hilson declined to provide any specifics on how things are developing.

“Brock University is still involved in the process of selecting a new head coach for the men’s basketball team. The university looks forward to letting the community know when the successful applicant has been secured,” Hilson wrote in an e-mail.

“I am not at liberty to discuss any aspect of the hiring process. We are filling a staff position and as with all Brock University staff recruitments, it is a strictly confidential process.”

When asked for information on the search committee, where the school was in the process, the number of applications received and local interest, and the timetable for a decision, Hilson also declined comment.

“This is consistent Brock practice and it respects the privacy and integrity of the process,” he replied.

In a mid-May interview, Hilson was much more forthcoming with information. He told QMI Agency Niagara Brock would exhaust all opportunities locally before looking at outside candidates; the school had received nine applications, including three U.S.-based coaches among them an associate head coach with a NCAA Division 1 squad and an assistant coach with a Division 1 squad.

Hilson felt Brock has the resources and desirability to attract a top-calibre coach and the resources allocated to the men’s and women’s basketball programs were competitive.

In the job posting on the university’s website, the salary scale was listed at between $47,394 and $71,980 per year.

In contrast, Carleton University men’s head coach Dave Smart earns $151,000 a year and University of Windsor head coach Chris Oliver takes home $113,000 annually.

According to one unnamed member of the Ontario University Athletics’ coaching fraternity, the salary being offered won’t attract the best candidates.

“They are not going to get any real qualified coach in that price range because every coach is getting paid more than that,” the coach said, adding one other recent job posting had a high end $20,000 higher than Brock’s.

“The bottom line is $20,000 is a huge difference and I think they have problems from that perspective. Who are you going to get coming in for that? You might get a guy coming from a community college.”

One of the coaches who applied for the Brock job was told a short list wouldn’t be developed until mid-July.

“They’re in real trouble and with them dragging out of the process now, it makes it even worse,” the coach said. “Who are you going to recruit? Every player is pretty well spoken for unless they are hiding underneath a rock or something.”

In terms of the selection committee, Brock is doing a good job of keeping it under wraps. A number of Niagara basketball insiders questioned hadn’t heard who was on the committee. When Rootes was chosen, the committee consisted of 1992 national championship team members Brian Bleich and Pat Sullivan, women’s basketball coach Si Khounviseth, wrestling coach Marty Calder and assistant athletic director Chris Critelli.

As the search for a coach continues, assistant coach Joel Whitty has been put in charge of Brock’s summer league and basketball camp and putting the Brock players through one-on-one workouts this summer.

“We need a person in place for Sept. 1 and we certainly understand that it’s important to get them there quicker,” Hilson said in May.


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