Utah State athletic director John Hartwell has scheduled as many as five interviews this week at a centralized location in his search for a basketball coach, according to sources in Logan.
Mark Fox, recently fired after nine years as Georgia’s coach, and longtime Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd are believed to be among the coaches Hartwell is pursuing. Head coaches Barret Peery of Portland State, Jim Les of UC Davis and Matt McMahon of Murray State in Kentucky also may be in the mix.
Washington assistant coach Dave Rice, formerly UNLV’s head coach and an assistant at USU and BYU, has told people close to him that he’s not getting the job, a source said. Rice had interest in the position, but was not interviewed.
Hartwell, who came to USU from Troy University in Alabama in 2015, fired Tim Duryea on March 11 after Duryea’s third season as the Aggies’ coach. Hartwell told KVNU Radio that fans “would be blown away by the people who have expressed interest in our job.” He said he hopes to name Duryea’s successor by the end of next week.
The NCAA Tournament could complicate the process, especially if Lloyd is involved.
Fox has the most head coaching experience of anyone being mentioned in connection with USU’s search. The biggest obstacles are that he’s in contention for Colorado State’s vacancy and he made more than $2 million annually at Georgia. USU’s offer couldn’t approach that salary level.
Fox thrived for five years as Nevada’s coach (then in the Western Athletic Conference), posting a 123-43 record and making two NCAA Tournament appearances. He went 163-133 at Georgia, including 77-79 in Southeastern Conference play, with two NCAA trips in his nine years. The Bulldogs finished 18-15 (7-11 SEC) this season.
Lloyd is the latest Gonzaga assistant to emerge as a potential head coach after being thought of as mostly a recruiting specialist in his 17 years on Mark Few’s staff. Lloyd is known for directing the Bulldogs’ highly successful international recruiting efforts.
No. 4-seeded Gonzaga plays No. 9 Florida State in the West Region semifinals Thursday in Los Angeles. The Bulldogs then would meet the winner of No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 7 Texas A&M in an effort to return to the Final Four.
USU pursued Utah assistant Tommy Connor in 2015 before hiring Duryea to replace Stew Morrill. The Aggies could top Connor’s $424,320 salary, a figure obtained by a Tribune public records request, but he may not remain interested in the USU job.