Vanderbilt using Fogler, not search firm to find new coach
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Vanderbilt has turned to Eddie Fogler to help find someone to take over the men's basketball program, and athletic director David Williams has given the former coach a must-have for candidates: Someone who will make the Commodores a regular in the NCAA Tournament.
Fogler will consult with Williams; no search firm but a streamlined interview process to identify the Commodores first new men's hoop coach since 1999.
Williams said Monday he wants Vanderbilt to be center stage as the SEC tries to emulate the Atlantic Coast Conference, which sent a handful of teams to the NCAA Tournament this month. The AD said the Southeastern Conference wants to regularly send seven or eight teams to the tournament.
''And I certainly expect that we would be one of them,'' Williams said during a news conference on Monday.
Vanderbilt is looking to replace both the winningest and longest-tenured coach in the program's history after Kevin Stallings accepted the Pittsburgh job Sunday. He left after a 19-14 season and an opening NCAA Tournament loss to Wichita State in Dayton. In his 17 seasons, Stallings had seven NCAA Tournament berths and reached the Sweet 16 twice. This season's berth was the first since winning the SEC tournament in 2012.
''Our expectation is to win,'' Williams said. ''Our expectation is to win the right way. Our expectation is to graduate student-athletes. Our expectation is to run a clean program, but our expectation is to win.''
Along with the SEC wanting to send seven or eight teams to the tournament, those are lofty expectations.
Williams said he already has talked a few times with Fogler, a former coach both at Vanderbilt and South Carolina, about potential candidates. Williams said Fogler will help with some of the ''legwork.'' The athletic director also said he's heard from everyone, including a cousin in Birmingham, Alabama, suggesting coaches to him.
Potential candidates already being mentioned Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, VCU coach and Nashville native Will Wade and Monmouth coach and former Vanderbilt assistant King Rice among others. Asked if money is an issue for the SEC's only private university, Williams said Vanderbilt pays market value for its coaches.
''We will hire a good basketball coach, and we are prepared to do what we think is necessary,'' Williams said.
Williams helped hire first James Franklin, then Derek Mason as football coaches at Vanderbilt. This will be his first search at Vanderbilt hiring a new basketball coach. Williams said Chancellor Nick Zeppos will be involved in the interview process but noted Fogler's connections to Vanderbilt as both a former coach and parent in helping the Commodores find the right fit. Fogler's son played golf at Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt does want prior head coaching experience, though Williams wouldn't limit that to college.
''This is not the right place for everybody, so we do spend a lot of time making sure people understand what Vanderbilt is about and what Vanderbilt expects,'' Williams said.
Asked about his future, Williams said he plans on staying at Vanderbilt. Williams also was asked about the future of women's coach Melanie Balcomb, who went 18-14 this season and has missed the NCAA Tournament now two straight years. The athletic director said Balcomb remains under contract.
AP College Basketball website: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/