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PC officials should look into forming search committee for next coach

March 7, 2011

Keno Davis was not Providence College's first choice when the school lured him away from Drake in April 2008.

An open letter to Providence College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley and Athletic Director Bob Driscoll:

When the search for the next men’s basketball coach commences, do not make the same mistake you did the last time. Many people were leery when Keno Davis was given the keys to the school’s primary means of visibility and exposure. Not just because Davis had all of one year of coaching experience under his belt, but also for the simple reason that he was far from the top choice to replace Tim Welsh.
Now it’s three years later and the vultures are circling the carcass. Rumors are circulating that big-time boosters are threatening to pull back their contributions if Davis is brought back. Like the rest of us, they have seen the freefall that has taken place and they want it stopped. The court of public opinion is crying out for change, believing that Davis’ talk that the Friars will be better next season is mere bluster, a smoke screen designed on his part to deflect the endless transgressions that have happened under his watch.
The school has absorbed enough public relations hits. The young coach who you lured away from Drake was not the answer. It’s time to turn the page and start anew. The question is whether history is doomed to repeat itself.
And by that, we are talking about the involvement of you, Rev. Shanley and Bob Driscoll, whose hockey background was glaringly apparent the last time PC was in this predicament, which turned laborious when everyone from Travis Ford to Jim Larranaga to Rick Pitino passed on coming here. Those countless rejections resulted in desperation, which in turn forced you to give a look hard at Davis.
The last time the two of you embarked on a coaching search, you did so working hand-in-hand, each party keeping the other abreast of the latest developments. To a degree that’s how it should be, two of the most powerful and influential people on campus united and on the same page.
Don’t follow the same procedure again. Your track record is such that you should seriously think about forming a blue-ribbon search committee that can only help the school in picking out the next head coach. You can model it after the “Vision Team,” which has been touted as another method in moving PC basketball in the right direction.
That’s the first step in avoiding what took place the last time, when you, Rev. Shanley, got too involved to the point that your enthusiastic nature clouded your judgment. We understand your unbridled passion, the theme that jumps out from the Cox Sports commercials of you sitting inside your Harkins Hall office. Your desire to see the Friars succeed in the nation’s toughest conference puts you light years ahead of your predecessor, the late Rev. Philip A. Smith, whose tenure is remembered for the demise of the Friar baseball program.
As Bill Belichick and Danny Ainge have demonstrated, you can’t bring raw emotion into the equation. You must put down the pompoms and show some nerve. Letting your heart serve as the primary guide can only result in a conclusion that may satisfy you, but is it best for the school?
That’s why it’s smart to include others in the decision-making process. Basketball is such a critical hire for the athletic department, hence the importance of assembling a group just for the sole purpose of seeking out the best possible candidates.
Who would make up this search committee? For starters, have former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese serve as the chairman. You can extend an invite to Dave Gavitt, who as recently as last year headed an alumni group to help Dartmouth find its next men’s basketball coach. Don’t you think it pains both men to see PC struggle in the same city where the Big East offices are located?
Getting former players involved would help bring a different voice to the confab. Joe Hassett bleeds Black & White, which would make him a fine addition to the committee. While his radio duties grant him an insider’s look at the day-to-day operations, it stretches beyond that. A star in the 70s, Hassett is a frequent guest of Providence practices, a time often utilized to dispense as much assistance as he possibly can to the players.
Some may think adding God Shammgod may be a stretch, yet the former Friar point guard told the New York Post last summer that he would like to lend a helping hand to PC. Now seems as good a time as any to hold “Sham” at his word. Maybe Austin Croshere can lend some support. Rev. Shanley, you must have made some in-roads with the ex-Friar after sitting next to him during Saturday’s 75-74 win against Rutgers.
Prominent alumni, like current Celtics president Rich Gotham, can only help. The goal is to make sure no stone is left unturned, and that’s exactly the mission this search committee would undertake.
This is not to say you can’t be part of the discussion mix, Rev. Shanley and Bob Driscoll. Ultimately this has to be a hire that you are at peace with. It’s just that you can’t travel down the same road as last time, when Driscoll, nearly three years to the day, announced that he planned on diving in headfirst – by his lonesome – to find Welsh’s successor.
The search committee method is the way to go. It’s also the best manner to ensure that a proper evaluation is done, which clearly wasn’t the case with the hiring of Davis.
As George Santayana, a Spanish born philosopher and poet, once stated, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

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