By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
Up Interstate 49 in Natchitoches, Northwestern State has made two basketball coaching hires in as many years, getting it done in under 10 days each time.
Not so fast for LSU Alexandria. There’s no search consultant involved in the Generals’ efforts to replace the departed Larry Cordaro, who started the LSUA men’s basketball program from scratch and was wildly successful in nine seasons.
His exit from LSUA was announced last Monday, March 20. His replacement may not be announced any time soon, said athletics director Tyler Unsicker on Monday, as the university is conducting a deliberate, thorough and far-reaching search.
There’s not any money sitting nearby to hire a search firm. That’s the reality of filling a coaching vacancy at the NAIA Division I level, where resources are scant compared to nearby NCAA counterparts like Northwestern, Grambling, Southern, McNeese, Louisiana Tech, ULM and UL Lafayette.
So there’s no question that while Unsicker is open to candidates from any level, from high school to high powered, the more prudent possibilities likely come from the NAIA ranks.
“There’s definitely some challenges at our level, where you don’t have the resources you might have at a bigger school, so someone who’s familiar with that is appealing. You don’t have full-time assistants, you don’t have a travel budget, you don’t have a recruiting budget that other places have, and that’s going to be an important part of the process in evaluating candidates to find the best fit.”
But at this stage, all comers are welcomed. Unsicker is hearing from interested parties, their advocates, and LSUA supporters, and he welcomes every e-mail, text, letter, fax, or phone call.
“I’m willing to talk to anybody so we can find the person who will be the best fit for our student-athletes and for our university, to grow the brand and represent us in a positive manner.
“You cast a wide net. Share what we’re looking for, talk to as many people as you can,” he said. “Obviously Coach built a great program here and we’re looking to grow upon what’s already been built. We’re looking for as many good candidates as possible.
“I knew it would be busy and people would be excited and interested, but it’s been even greater than I envisioned,” said Unsicker. “We’ve won big here. Coaches know it can be done here.”
Could it be an accomplished high school coach?
“I’m open,” he said. “There are some benefits to understanding the collegiate level and all that goes with it.”
Unsicker has formed a search committee, and expects to use virtual interviews before bringing top candidates to campus. He’s collecting all the information and inquiries he can and hopes to hone in on narrowing the field sooner than later, though not this week and probably not the next. The process will run its course, he said, as some candidates rise, fall or drop out.
In the meantime, the information flow is considerable.
“You get a lot of coaches calling, former coaches, on behalf of candidates. I’m getting a lot of community members reaching out to tell me about a great candidate from this high school or this place. You listen to all of it because there’s value in what everyone has to say,” he said.
What’s the profile of the new LSUA coach?
“We want a candidate who has a plan, is organized, creates a great team culture, holds his team accountable, graduates student-athletes, making sure they go to class and fulfill all the other responsibilities,” said Unsicker. “Then the winning will take care of itself.”
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Photo courtesy LSUA