Southeast will announce new men's basketball coach Thursday

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Southeast Missouri State athletic director John Shafer really is going it alone.

Shafer will introduce the new men's basketball coach 2 p.m. Thursday in a news conference at the Show Me Center, the university announced Monday afternoon in a news release.

The process for Shafer's first hire has come without a committee, without the naming of finalists and without the public forums that have been part of all of the university's high-profile hires since the school moved to Division I.

Now, can Shafer keep his selection a secret until Thursday afternoon?

The new coach takes over a program coming off a turmoil-filled 3-27 season.

It started when coach Scott Edgar was placed on administrative leave Oct. 9 for alleged NCAA rules violations. Zac Roman, who worked as an assistant on Edgar's staff during the 2007-08 season, was named the acting coach Oct. 16.

The university announced it was buying out Edgar's contract Dec. 31. Edgar, who had a base salary of $125,000, had 2 1/2 years left on the five-year deal he signed in April 2006. The university terminated Edgar's contract without cause, meaning it paid him about $325,000.

The basketball team experienced little success under Roman. It finished winless in the Ohio Valley Conference and on a 19-game losing streak. This was the first men's basketball team from Southeast and just the seventh to go winless in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The team's problems weren't limited to the court. Junior Calvin Williams, the team's leading rebounder and third-leading scorer, was kicked off the team Feb. 6 for a violation of athletic department policy, according to a university statement. That came after Williams was suspended for four games earlier in the season after he was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, driving without a license and driving without proper headlights.

Southeast ranks 338 out of 343 Division I teams in RPI, according to ncaa.org.

Southeast has posted two winning seasons since the beginning of this decade -- 18-12 in 2000-01 and 15-14 in 2004-05. But it's been a tough road as the program has a 93-163 record this decade and lost at least 20 games in each of the last four seasons.

When university president Dr. Kenneth Dobbins introduced Shafer, who was hired in December to succeed Don Kaverman, at a news conference Jan. 10, he said the new AD would be able to act alone in identifying finalists and recommending a candidate, but Dobbins expected the public forums to continue.

Shafer was hired with that process, as was his predecessor and the last two coaches for both men's basketball and football.

With his ties to the Southeastern Conference as the former athletic director at Ole Miss and more than 17 years as an assistant at Georgia, speculation has centered around Shafer tabbing someone with whom he is familiar.

That wouldn't include Sean Sutton, the former Oklahoma State coach who along with his father, Eddie, have been speculated as candidates.

The younger Sutton, out of coaching since being bought out last year, said Monday he had not been in contact with Shafer.

"I haven't spoken with anyone from SEMO, but I certainly would consider it. Right now, I've just enjoyed the year off and spent time with my family, but I would like to get back into coaching," said Sutton, whose single season as an assistant at Ole Miss was about five years before Shafer's stint as AD. "I heard a lot of great things about him from people, and I'm sure he'll do a terrific job at the school."

Sutton said his father, who won more than 800 games at stops including Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State, is working part-time at a bank in Tulsa and spending time with family.

"I think he's coached his last game," Sean Sutton said.

Longtime Southern Illinois assistant coach Rodney Watson told the Southern Illinoisan on Monday that he had applied but also had not been contacted.

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