TFST Extra bonus newsletter: On the search firm and Louisville coaching search
Thanks for reading The Floyd Street Tribune, and a hearty welcome to all our new subscribers. To catch up on TFST’s reporting on the Louisville coaching situation, read these items in order: why Chris Mack didn’t work out; coaching search update, version 1.0; and more on interim coach Mike Pegues.
Because the actual coaching search is in its infancy — “It’s still very early,” one industry source told me Monday — I want to use this week’s newsletter to discuss the search firm Louisville hired and some coach-specific nuggets I’ve collected since our last coaching search update. I’ll get to the search firm notes first for all subscribers, but the coach-specific material below will be for full TFST subscribers only.
Let us rock.
The search firm
Ah, yes, the search firm. That won’t freak anyone out.
The University of Louisville on Monday announced the hiring of DHR Global, led by industry veteran Glenn Sugiyama, “to assist in its search process” for a new men’s basketball coach. Anyone who has been following this process knew that announcement was coming and shouldn’t be surprised. The goal is to vet candidates, help determine interest from candidates and potentially uncover candidates previously off Louisville’s radar.
“People say, ‘Isn’t it the athletics director’s job to find a coach?’” Sugiyama told the Chicago Tribune in 2019. “No, the AD’s job is to hire the best person. The coach is often the highest-paid employee of the university and the state. Many people consider it malpractice not to use an executive search firm to make the best decision possible.”
First, I understand why some fans are annoyed Louisville hired a search firm, especially because so many believe there is already a clear top choice (Kenny Payne) for the job. And I tend to think he is the leading candidate, too. But to those people, I would counter with two things:
Schools hire search firms for coaching searches all the time, sometimes to actually conduct them, but sometimes, such as in this case, to dot some Is and cross some Ts. The ol’ Cover Your Ass strategy.
The search firm will help comb through candidates and produce a few to consider. I see no harm in that. Louisville has, at minimum, a few weeks before the carousel really picks up. There is no rush. Kenny Payne isn’t going anywhere, and the buyouts for a few college coaches potentially on Louisville’s radar don’t reduce until April 1.
Ask yourself this: If, in hindsight, you’re frustrated Louisville determined Chris Mack was its top choice in 2018 and focused its entire hiring process solely on him without really looking at anyone else, why would you be upset that the school wants a different approach this time? Even if Payne ultimately is the choice, where’s the harm in making sure?
A dive into Twitter and Google searches show Sugiyama and DHR helped a number of college hoops hires over the years:
Craig Smith, a widely-respected coach, at Utah State … his teams went 74-24, won two Mountain West titles in three years and clinched NCAA Tournament bids each year. He is now at Utah.
Josh Pastner at Georgia Tech
Kyle Neptune, a former Jay Wright assistant, at Fordham
Tony Stubblefield at DePaul
Frank Haith at Tulsa
Cuonzo Martin at California
I love Craig Smith and think he is an excellent coach. Stubblefield has been really good at DePaul so far. Pastner has been OK at Tech. Martin was OK at Cal. Haith has been pretty average at Tulsa. Neptune is only in his first year at Fordham, though he’s off to a good start.
More on Sugiyama below …