By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor
A week after Tom Pecora ended his career with the Pride, a new career began as Tim Welsh was introduced as Hofstra University's head basketball coach on April 1, 2010. After a two-year hiatus from a coaching career that included ten years with Providence College and an assistant job under Jim Boehiem at Syracuse in the early 1990's, Welsh returns to the sidelines at the Mack Sports Complex.
Adding statements to the festivities were University President Stuart Rabinowitz and Athletic Director Jack Hayes. "Today is a great day for Hofstra athletics," said Rabinowitz. "The hiring of Tim Welsh will truly enable us to move our basketball program to the next level."
Hayes was given the responsibility of finding the Pride's next head coach, a search that needed to be "as thorough as possible, but as quick as possible," Hayes stated. Speaking to renowned NCAA staff like current Villanova and former Hofstra head coach Jay Wright, two time national champion Billy Donovan of the University of Florida, Davidson head coach Bob McKillop, and former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, Hayes was able to find the right candidate for the job in Welsh. From Iona to Providence, Welsh made a name for himself leading small schools to big success. "Those thirteen years of coaching, three NCAA appearances, five NIT appearances, and beyond the success on the court, a tremendous reputation for building programs and being successful made him very interesting," Hayes added.
Welsh took to the podium to thunderous applause, and though he was in the spotlight, he got right down to business. "There's a lot of glitz and glamour today and suits and everybody's feeling good, but it's about these guys (the team) getting down and dirty and getting to work and representing the school in the right way and these guys can do that." The Pride and Welsh made an immediate connection and according to both parties, the hiring fit perfectly. "It's all about fit," stated Welsh. "And this absolutely 100% felt perfect to me, and I'm glad it felt perfect for President Rabinowitz and Jack."
With focus mostly on himself, Welsh revealed his first moves as Pride head coach. "The first order of business is to get with the players. I mean, the players are the most important part of the program no question about it and we have good players here," Welsh stated. "We have the best player in the conference in Charles Jenkins and it starts with him and everything else falls into place after that." Hofstra's new general is also looking forward to getting the students more involved. "They help us win games and recruit players and that's what college basketball is all about. It starts with our students so we want to make sure our students are involved with the program and feel they are in the program."
With a majority of the core players are returning for next season, the possibility of a successful year is something that excites Welsh. "I wish we could play tomorrow."
Tomorrow will come sooner than Tim Welsh thinks and with a solid recruiting off-season and the creation of good team chemistry, the Hofstra Pride has the pieces to create a championship puzzle.