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Hofstra AD Jack Hayes explains the process of finding a coach

By Max Sass, Sports Editor

Step 1: Pecora leaves

Fordham University athletics called Hofstra athletics to ask permission to interview Tom Pecora for their head coaching vacancy. "The Fordham situation is a little different then when these normally occur because I had worked at Fordham in the late ‘90's for three years," said Hofstra athletic director Jack Hayes.

Hayes explained that both he and Coach Pecora were very open and honest about the entire situation. "Coach Pecora and I talked through it that week and he asked questions of certain things about the basketball program, about the athletic department as a whole and then went and met with them.

On Wednesday, March 24 Pecora went to visit Fordham. That day he decided to accept the position. "We talked about how we would discuss that at the banquet and then Thursday I met with the team, no coaches, just me," Hayes said.

"From that point forward," said Hayes, "the responsibility was to find a coach."

Step 2: Evaluating the position

Once Pecora left, Hayes needed to determine what type of candidate Hofstra would pursue. "I felt that we could hire a [current] head coach," Hayes said. "I felt that the term mid-major was so encompassing that what you find out is that there are some jobs that are much better than others. I felt that we could look at head coaches that would view our job as a better one than the one they might have."

Hayes works at Hofstra so he felt his judgment might be biased so he went outside of the current Pride circle. He spoke to Jay Wright (former Hofstra coach), Billy Donovan (Hayes' friend, Providence graduate as was Hayes, and Long Island native) and Mike Tranghese (former Big East commissioner who was working on a separate athletic project at Hofstra). He also consulted current Davidson coach and Hofstra alum Bob McKillop.

"We weren't necessarily asking them for candidates," Hayes said. "We weren't necessarily asking them if they were interested. We were asking them, ‘What is your perception of Hofstra basketball?"

"All of them agreed," Hayes said, "that we had the type of job where we could go out and find a head coach."

Hayes added that, "We felt like we had the history, the facilities, the talent on our roster, the reputation from outside coaches that someone who is currently a head coach would have wanted our job."

Step 3: Evaluating the candidates

Once Hayes determined which type of candidate to pursue, the issue became picking the actual candidates. "As we started to go into the list, Mike Tranghese said,' What do you think of Tim Welsh?" Hayes said.

Hayes would not name the current head coaches that he was looking to pursue.

Hayes said that Van Macon, Pecora's top assistant, was considered for the position. "He met with the President and I about the position and he did a great job," Hayes said. "At the end of the day we had someone who had been a head coach for 13 years and that experience we just felt was the way for us to go."

Tim Welsh was out of coaching for two years working as an analyst for two years. Previously he had been a head coach for 13 years at Iona College and Providence College.

Welsh was not on the original list of candidates but Hayes explained, "The only reason he wasn't on the list was because I didn't know he was interested in coming back."
Hayes said that the players were not involved in selecting candidates but he met with juniors Charles Jenkins and Nathaniel Lester on Wednesday to tell them about Welsh.

Step 4: Courting Tim Welsh

Once Hayes heard of Welsh's interest in the school he immediately contacted Welsh. "When he was interested," Hayes said, " I got on the phone with Coach Welsh. He came down and we met with him for a couple of days."

"It made sense right from the beginning for both sides," Hayes said.

Welsh came and visited on March 29 with Hayes and Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz. "He had no been here since the arena was built so there was a lot he had not seen, which he had a chance to visit and see last Monday night," Hayes said.

Step 5: Hiring Tim Welsh

"Coach Welsh and I got together Tuesday morning," said Hayes, "we spoke for a while. He met with the President and we knew by that afternoon that we had the person we wanted."

Hayes said that both parties were on the same page in terms of the contract and things were able to move quickly. "Seven days from Tom Pecora's press conference was Tim Welsh's press conference," Hayes said.

Step 6: The Tim Welsh Era

Welsh's press conference was over spring break at Hofstra so many of the team members were not present. Welsh spoke with the players that were present on the day of the conference.  Welsh held his first meeting with the entire team Tuesday, April 6.
Welsh has already started hiring his staff and will soon contact players that have signed letters of intent with the Pride.

Left to right (David Gordon/ The Chronicle)

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