Shafer sifts long list of potential coaches

Friday, February 20, 2009

Southeast Missouri State athletic director John Shafer said he has fielded hundreds of phone calls and hundreds of e-mails about the men's basketball coaching position in his first 2 weeks on the job.

"No exaggeration," he said. "That has been a chore."

But it is clearly the most important early decision in Shafer's tenure as athletic director.

The deadline is today for those applying for the position, which opened when Scott Edgar's contract was bought out in the final days of 2008 after he had been on administrative leave for more than two months. Zac Roman has been serving as the acting coach this season and is among the candidates for the position.

The Redhawks are struggling through a 3-24 season, including an 0-16 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play.

Shafer said he will receive a list of applicants and resumes from the university's human resources department today. While he has talked to many people, including candidates themselves, he does not have a finalist list yet.

"Absolutely not," Shafer said. "I've got some ideas, obviously, but I'm not ready to say 'This one, this one, this one.' There are some people I've been impressed with, not just their credentials but from just talking with them and having conversations.

"I've been talking to people that have called me -- candidates, agents, athletic directors -- and I will use the people I have confidence in basketball [for advice]."

Shafer has spent most of his 25-plus years in athletics administration in the Southeastern Conference, including 17 years at Georgia. He was an AD at Ole Miss from 1998 to 2002 and at Eastern Kentucky in 2003 and 2004 before beginning his duties at Southeast on Feb. 1.

Shafer said he has had many conversations with Roman, but not about the job.

"They're still in the season," Shafer said. "We talk philosophy and about what's going on with the team.

"It's an unusual circumstance to be in. I have seen it, lived through it, although I've never gone through it. He's a class young man."

Shafer is aware some student-athletes considering Southeast Missouri may be waiting on his decision before making their decisions. He stood by his earlier position of not setting a timetable on the process.

"What I would say to any prospective student-athlete is that Southeast Missouri is going to find the best coach possible as soon as possible," he said.

Attending the women's basketball game Thursday night, Shafer said he likes seeing athletes from teams supporting each other. He pointed to members of the men's basketball team watching the women's game, and he said other athletes were at the gymnastics meet where he began his evening.

"That's one thing I endorse," he said. "I talked to the coaches that we're a team, and we want every team to support other teams when possible. I want the student-athletes to know each other."

Shafer, who prides himself on knowing his student-athletes as well, said he has attended practices for various teams to show his support.

"That's my thing," he said. "I think a personal relationship is important."

Shafer also has attended a few public events such as Business After Hours, and is making calls on the booster list.

He said he couldn't ask for a better welcome.

"The community can't do enough for us, with people asking us what we need and how they can help," Shafer said. "I've been impressed. It's been overwhelming."

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