By Max Sass, Sports Editor
Five weeks to the day that Tim Welsh was hired as the new men's basketball coach, the University announced the hiring of Mo Cassara to the same position.
Welsh resigned as head coach Monday, May 3, just three days after being arrested for a DWI. Welsh was found stopped at a steady green light at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and North Bellmore Rd. in Levittown, according to police reports.
Monday afternoon the University issued a statement that said, "Tim Welsh today tendered his resignation as the Hofstra University men's basketball coach. The University accepted the resignation in the best interests of the University and of the men's basketball program."
Welsh was hired March 31 to replace Tom Pecora, who had left just a week prior for Fordham.
University athletic director Jack Hayes said that no red flags were raised when the school conducted the process of hiring Welsh. "Not one," Hayes said. "When you do your due diligence, when you contact the people in the business that we spoke with, when you do background checks and all those things come out the way you would expect, you move forward and you make a decision."
Cassara was hired by Welsh to be an assistant coach on his staff. After Welsh's resignation the school worked swiftly and hired Cassara. Cassara could not put his excitement into words Wednesday afternoon. "I really can't," he said. "I think this is an opportunity that presented itself that I really, certainly didn't expect."
Hayes was pleased with the University's decision. "We felt at the end of the day that was the best direction and we are very excited," he said.
Cassara will not only have to win basketball games but help rehab the image of a program that has been portrayed negatively since Welsh's incident. "There is certainly not going to be a quick fix to that, but that is certainly something that, with the staff we have in place and this terrific administration, we will continue to just move past and continue to grow. And I think that if we do the right thing, this program will be in great shape and it has been in great shape for many years," Cassara said.
"I don't think the image of Hofstra or Hofstra basketball took a hit," Hayes said. "I think we certainly had an unfortunate and dissapointing situation occur but I think Coach Cassara is the right person for the job and the right person to lead Hofstra."
Cassara can prove Hayes right by winning, and winning in year one could be a bit easier because of reigning CAA Player of the Year and back-to-back Haggerty Award winner Charles Jenkins. "I think Charles Jenkins can be a terrific, terrific player," Cassara said. "I think he could be a terrific player in anybody's system."
Hayes agrees that Cassara can win in year one. "I think he can," Hayes said. "I think he thinks he can win and that is what is most important."
Cassara will have time to establish himself as a winner though. Despite rumors that the Pride were looking for a caretaker instead of a long term coach, Cassara received a multi-year deal. "Some questions came up that this appointment was made on a interim basis and it was not," Hayes said.
The process of hiring Cassara was far different from the one Hayes went throuh with Welsh. "Our process was different because our circumstances were different," said Hayes. "What we did five weeks ago and how we went about it, I think was the right way to do it."
Hayes previously told The Chronicle that he was looking for someone with prior head coaching experience, which Cassara has, but not at the level of some other rumored candidates. Cassara had been an assistant coach in the ACC with Boston College for four years but was head coach of Clark University in Massachusetts for two years prior to joining the BC Eagles.
"We did [look at head coaches] but we also took a look at what we had on our own staff and felt fairly quickly that that was the best way to go," Hayes said.