In a press conference called, in part, to address the media frenzy that surrounded the Marquette University head men's basketball coaching search, interim athletic director Bill Cords revealed he will remain in that capacity until 2015.
It took nearly eight minutes into the press conference to get to that nugget, and only because Cords was asked if a permanent athletic director would be hired before the next men’s basketball coach.
"No. I’m going to be here until about this time next year," Cords said. "(The university administration) thought that would be a good thing to do given that new president (Michael Lovell) comes on board and he’s looking for a provost and there’s a lot of things that he’s going to need to do and so we thought it would be good for him not to have a concern about that for about a year."
Cords said both interim president Father Robert Wild and Lovell, who will officially take over on Aug. 1, will be heavily involved in the basketball coaching search.
Regarding the search for Buzz Williams’ replacement, Cords couldn’t comment specifically on who the university is targeting – or will target – he said the university is in the strongest position it’s been 25 years in to bring in a qualified coach.
"I will say this – I’m old so I have a history of every hiring since 1989 in some fashion – this is by far … the program is the strongest it’s ever been," Cords said. "I mean, solid. (The) base, foundation, support, everything. And so, therefore our pool is good. It’s stronger and better than … by far, than we’ve had. So I think we’re going to have an opportunity to find the best possible coach we can find."
He also wouldn’t reveal if the university uses a search firm or if it is being conducted strictly in house, but he did say the search began "immediately" after Williams said he was leaving for Virginia Tech last week.
Cords wasn’t asked about any specific coaches outside of Virginia Commonwealth University head coach Shaka Smart, and in response to FOX6 sports anchor Tom Pipines’ question about whether he could confirm or deny any contact with Smart, Cords said: "Well, I can neither confirm nor deny. That’s the best I can do."
No timeline was given for finding a head coach, but Cords did stress that while it’s important to find one quickly, the university must remain respectful of their current universities (if it’s a coach under contract) and their confidentiality.
With former head coaches Kevin O’Neill (Tennessee), Tom Crean (Indiana) and Williams having left the program for other head coaching positions, Cords was asked if one of the prerequisites for a new coach will be his desire to not use the position as a platform for something bigger.
"Well, we’re not a stepping stone," Cords said. "I think there was one time where you might say that, but I don’t think we are now. You always look for coaches to stay. You always look for coaches to stay. That being said, we’re going to find the best possible coach we can.
"We feel that we have everything in place in terms of support, facilities, to make sure that that person has a chance to do what we all want to do, which is get back to the Final Four and win a national championship."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.