Clock Ticking for Hen's Basketball

It’s almost as if the University of Delaware is trying to be bad in basketball. It seems like every decision the school’s administration makes sets the program back, and that’s mostly because it takes them so doggone long to make those decisions.

Delaware doesn’t have a head coach right now, and this happens to be prime recruiting season. The Blue Hens also don’t have an athletic director, which is why they don’t have a head coach, since the athletic director selects the head coach, and since they don’t have an athletic director … well, you get the idea.

Apparently, however, Delaware doesn’t. Like so many big institutions today, the UD administration has hired a consulting firm to help them in their nationwide search for a new basketball coach and that, of course, means it will be a thorough vetting procedure and that, of course, takes time – something the Hens just don’t have if they want to turn their fortunes in basketball sometime this decade.

By the way, the last time Delaware held a nation-wide search was in 2013 after football coach K.C. Keeler was fired. After a long, drawn-out process during which Delaware was supposedly looking at qualified candidates from coast to coast, they ended up hiring a friend of the athletic director. Some search…

Anyhow, time’s a wastin’ and this will be the second straight year basketball recruiting is held down by cement shoes the Delaware administration has created. Last year, coach Monte Ross’ future at Delaware was in limbo as the administration twiddled its thumbs before finally offering Ross a contract extension, and no highly-regarded recruit was going to commit to Delaware if he didn’t know who the coach was going to be.

So, the Hens lost a year of recruiting and then they went out and lost a lot of games – 23 of them – and the coach who was just given an extension was fired, but only after the athletic director who gave him that extension was fired first.

That A.D., Eric Ziady, parted ways with Delaware on the last day of last year and the Blue Hens’ athletic department has been left without a leader for three months. The interim A.D., Dr. Matthew Robinson, has done a fine job filling the breach, but you’d think they could have hired a full-time athletic director by now. If it takes three months to hire somebody, then the people doing the hiring don’t know what they’re doing.

Granted, it’s an important position and this decision will impact Delaware athletics for the foreseeable future. It should be given serious and sober consideration. At the same time, these guys need to get on the stick. There are plenty of qualified candidates out there – pick and hire her or him.

Robinson will be with other search committee members at the Final Four in Houston this weekend because they know all sorts of basketball people will also be there, including, of course, athletic directors and coaches, past and present. Apparently they’ll pick the brains of some of those basketball gurus and maybe even talk to somebody who could end up being Delaware’s next coach.

Despite all the problems – including the lack of recruiting time and the defection of the Hens’ only star player, guard Kory Holden – the Delaware job is an attractive one, especially for a young, ambitious assistant from a big-time program who’s looking to make his own mark on the basketball world. Of course, there’s no guarantee that approach will work – the Hens have had mixed success going down that road, hitting a homer with Mike Brey, but striking out with David Henderson and Monte Ross.

There’s also a chance the search committee will decide on somebody who already has experience as a head coach at the college level, somebody who has proven he can recruit and run a successful program. Of course, most of those guys already have jobs and Delaware isn’t going to woo a big name (or big ego) to Newark.

Whatever they do, they should do it soon, because the Blue Hens need all the help they can get and time is not on their side.

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  • Kevin, Former AD Ziady did not extend Ross. Ziady decided to let Ross’s contract expire in April 2015. Responding to community pressure from some elements (most of whom probably rarely if ever attend UD Basketball games), VP Scott Douglass (one of a bunch of ex-Pres Harker (who apparently was no no longer acting as Pres even though his contract wasn’t up until Jul 1, 2015) )hires who are now all gone thank goodness) and the Board of Trustees overrode Ziady and gave Ross the three year extension. Acting AD Robinson reportedly gave Ross a vote of confidence in the locker room after UD’s last loss this past season, but the negative reaction was so overwhelming once Kory Holder, UD’s best player, announced that he was transferring that Robinson then turned around and fired Ross (reportedly at the direction of incoming UD Pres Assanis. Robinson is a candidate for the “permanent” AD job, but I don’t have much confidence in his judgment after he gave Ross that vote of confidence. The UD Admin and BOT continue to mishandle UD athletics. I am anxious to see if the incoming regime can reverse this long time mismanagement of UD athletics.

  • Hi Bill and thanks for reading and for correcting my error about the Ross time frame — my point was that it was during the Ziady tenure that this stuff happened and the AD’s desk it where the buck is supposed to stop. I certainly agree with you that it’s time for these guys to get their act together and it’s hard to have confidence that they will. There seems to be too many cooks and I don’t know if any of them has a winning recipe. And that’s a shame, because Delaware has everything it needs to be successful except good leadership at the top.

    • Kevin, Ziady was the AD when Ross’s contract was extended for three years in April 2015. However, it was not Ziady’s decision. Ziady’s decison to let Ross’s contract expire in Spring 2015 was overrode by UD VP Scott Douglass and the UD BOTs reportedly following consultation with Ex-UD Pres Roselle (who recommended the extension. Pres Harker was apparently no longer acting in that capacity even though he was supposedly the UD Pres until Jul 1, 2015. Ziady’s name was not included in UD’s announcement of that decision, nor was there any public statement from Ziady. Ziady’s decision to not extend Ross and the override of that decision may have played a role in UD’s termination of Ziady at the end of Dec 2015. It is also frequently forgotten that Ziady offered Ross a contract extension in early Fall 2014, but Ross turned it down as insulting. About 1 month later, Ross told Ziady he would sign that extension but Ziady told him that it was now off the table. Maybe it was an insulting offer and maybe Ziady was counting on Ross to refuse to sign. However, if Ross had singed it at his first opportunity (as he later tried to do) tehn recruiting would not have been disrupted.
      As for UD’s athletic future, unless new Pres Assanis and some new members of the BOTs have a different view of athletics at UD, I am not optimistic about the future. For a long time now, it seems that UD Admin and BOTs don’t really care if UD athletic teams win. They seem to regard athletics as a nuisance that they prefer would go away and not bother them.