PROVIDENCE — New Brown University athletic director Jack Hayes had just wrapped up his short introductory speech when an inquiring mind asked how he plans to address a personnel matter that figures to be high up on his to-do list.
“You want the job?” replied a smiling Hayes upon being broached about offering some insight surrounding the school’s men’s basketball head coaching position, a spot currently operating on an interim basis under the guiding hand of Pawtucket native T.J. Sorrentine.
Hayes’ response prompted a second-floor room full of Brown dignitaries and members of his family to burst out in laughter before continuing with his train of thought, saying, “This is something we want to address as soon as we can.”
Until he’s told otherwise, Sorrentine will continue to operate exactly in the same capacity he’s held since March 5, when outgoing Brown A.D. Michael Goldberger relieved Jesse Agel of his head coaching duties. Sitting in the men’s basketball office following Thursday’s unveiling of Hayes as the new overseer of Brown athletics, Sorrentine expressed relief that he will have an answer regarding his coaching future at the university sooner rather than later.
“As I’ve been here over the last month and working and progressing forward, I’ve been so anxious to see who would potentially be my boss,” Sorrentine said. “I’m excited that it’s going to be Jack and I’m looking forward to the chance to sit down and talk and see what his vision for the program is and express mine as well.”
Sorrentine has been a fixture on the Bears’ basketball staff since 2008, first as an assistant before rising to the rank of associate head coach last season. Having the support and backing of high-ranking administrators is something he has, beginning with Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services at Brown and also the point person in the nationwide search that culminated with the hiring of Hayes. Klawunn has already expressed to Hayes why Sorrentine would be the ideal choice to become Brown’s next fulltime head coach.
Hayes will officially take over on July 1. A Providence native who attended Providence Country Day before moving on to Providence College, Hayes owns more than 20 years of experience in university sports administration. Recently he held the position of athletic director at Hofstra University where he oversaw the hiring of two basketball coaches, one of whom was former Providence College mentor Tim Welsh.
Asked if he anticipates using a different set of criteria to hire a coach at an Ivy League institution as opposed to one affiliated with the Colonial Athletic Association, the league that Hofstra belongs to, Hayes replied, “I think ultimately you want to find someone who’s the right fit and comes from a successful program. That successful program could be one that looks like Brown or one that on the surface doesn’t look like it but the person had a history at an Ivy League school. You have to do your due diligence.”
Hayes understands that the process of clarifying Sorrentine’s role needs to be resolved in a timely fashion, especially since April is regarded as one of the most important recruiting months on the calendar. “In a search like this, you want to get it done quickly but not at the expense of doing a thorough search. That’s what needs to happen.”
Sorrentine did not attend the Final Four in New Orleans, choosing instead to maintain a strong presence on campus. In the wake of uncertainty he’s operated like any head coach would, from meeting and shaking hands with boosters to overseeing the current players to reaching out to potential recruits.
“It’s been full speed ahead because whoever was coming in, I wanted to present to them what I had done in my one month in charge and what I plan to do moving forward,” Sorrentine said. “I’m excited for Jack and I think it’s going to be great for the entire university.”