DI coaching changes not uncommon

Recent changes to the NKU men’s basketball coaching roster brought much shock to the community, however the loss of a head coach for unknown reasons during a transition to Division I is not something new in the world of college basketball.

According to NKU President Mearns, the firing of former Head Coach Dave Bezold was solely performance based.

“The athletic director [Ken Bothof] evaluates all head coaches based upon criteria that are specific to those particular programs,” Mearns said. “Mr. Bothof had conversations with Coach Bezold, as he does with all head coaches, about their collective and shared expectations of the program. So, the decision was the product of their collective evaluation of the progress of the program, not just wins and losses, but the overall progress of the program.”

The NKU men’s basketball team went 13-17 in the 2014-15 season, an improvement from last season’s 9-21. The Norse also finished 7-7 in the Atlantic Sun, their best conference record since reclassifying to Division I.

University of Massachusetts-Lowell, another school reclassifying to Division I, recently lost men’s basketball Head Coach Greg Herenda to Division I Fairleigh Dickson University because he “felt that the four-year ban on NCAA and America East Conference post-season play would be a hurdle he wouldn’t have to overcome at FDU,” according to UMass-Lowell Athletic Director Dana Skinner.

One of the biggest time commitments since going Division I, according to Skinner, is hiring new coaches for the athletic program.

“Personnel issues have taken a good amount of our time – lots of new hires as well as a number of employees who transitioned away from the university,” Skinner said. “Maintaining positive staff morale during a transition like this has required some extra attention.”

During reclassification, many coaches leave for a wide variety of reasons, either for other Division I schools or fired.

“We’ve had a number of coaching changes in our first two years,” Skinner said. “Three head coaches left on their own – one for a head job in Division II, and two [men’s & women’s basketball] left for other Division I head jobs. Two other coaches were not rehired after the first year of Division I. The basketball coaches left for what they considered better Division I jobs. The coach who left for another D-II job simply preferred coaching at the D-II level.”

Another example of a Division I firing is NKU’s rival Florida Gulf Coast, who fired its first coach in the school’s history after it finished the required four-year reclassification period, in which the Eagles went 39-82.

FGCU went on to hire Andy Enfield, who only stayed two years at the university before leaving for a higher-paying and increased exposure position at the University of Southern California.

The firing of Dave Bezold was the first for NKU since going Division I. All other head coaches, with the exception of women’s basketball head coach Dawn Plitzuweit, were NKU head coaches when the Norse were competing in Division II. Plitzuweit was hired in 2012 after NKU Hall of Fame Coach Nancy Winstel announced her retirement at the end of the final Division II season.

On Monday, Athletic Director Ken Bothof announced the hiring of John Brannen as the next NKU men’s basketball head coach, ending the search for Bezold’s replacement.