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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Harvard and the Coaching Carousel

A major shakeup has occurred in the New England college hoops scene as Boston College fired head coach Al Skinner today. The Boston Globe reports that Harvard coach Tommy Amaker is being considered to replace Skinner, although it has not yet known whether Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo has asked Harvard Athletic Director Bob Scalise for permission to speak to Amaker. An earlier Boston Globe report called Amaker the early front runner, though the updated version no longer includes that language.

Multiple sources close to the team have said that Amaker will leave Harvard for Boston College if he is offered the head job, although Amaker is currently just one of many coaches under consideration for the BC gig. Harvard sophomore forward Keith Wright tweeted this morning: "man...all these coaches PROMISE they arent going to leave....but if that money is right they are #GHOST."

Other names that Boston College is reported to be considering are Cornell's Steve Donahue, Fairfield's Ed Cooley (formerly an assistant under Skinner at URI and BC), Richmond's Chris Mooney, Northeastern's Bill Coen (also a former assistant under Skinner) and Rhode Island's Jim Baron.

Amaker's strong recruiting, his efforts to reach out to Harvard students and alumni, and two straight road wins over Boston College are three factors that make a strong case for getting the head position at BC. Skinner's recruiting had fallen off after the departures of assistants Ed Cooper and Bill Coen, and the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley pointed to Skinner's lack of interest in promoting the basketball program to the BC community and the greater Boston area as a major reason for his firing.

Amaker has already been tied to one job offer, at St. John's, a position that is now likely to be filled by Steve Lavin, so being on a short list does not mean accepting the job. Indeed, Amaker told the student newspaper on campus that he was planning on being back in Cambridge next year, admitting to trying to get Boston College on Harvard's schedule but being unsure of how it would work out, and Donahue has only said he'd leave Cornell for a slam dunk, which Boston College probably is not. While it's too early to speculate who will be the coach at Boston College next year, if it's either Amaker or Donahue, a Harvard-Boston College game would certainly become a lot more interesting than just being a crosstown rivalry.

WHRB's Tom Brennan contributed to this report.

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