The college basketball season came to an end for the FGCU men’s basketball team on Tuesday in an 80-68 loss to Oklahoma State in the first round of the NIT, and the rumor mill about the future of fifth-year coach Joe Dooley is swirling.
Nearly every year since Dooley took the job in 2013, the former Kansas assistant has been floated as a possibility for other jobs elsewhere, and this year in no different.
Even as soon as after the Atlantic Sun tournament, Dooley’s name was being mentioned in the same sentence as openings at UTEP, Missouri State, and East Carolina.
Ronnie Woodward of the Greenville(N.C.) Daily Reflector reported Tuesday that there was “mutual interest” between ECU and Dooley for the opening there.
Dooley has said from his first year here that he doesn’t speak on job openings elsewhere, and when asked after Tuesday’s NIT loss, he instead focused his attention to FGCU’s next season.
“I like our situation. We’ve got a good team, a lot of good guys,” Dooley said. “We’ll go back, regroup and try to be good again next year.”
The Eagles lose star point guard Brandon Goodwin, along with three-year starter Christian Terrell and center Antravious Simmons, but return several of their rotation players including guards Zach Johnson and Dinero Mercurius, and forward Michael Gilmore. UNLV transfer Troy Baxter will also be eligible, along with incoming 3-star freshman guard Zach Scott and junior college transfer Quentin Jackson. Marquette transfer Haanif Cheatham will be eligible in December.
Athletic director Ken Kavanagh said by email Wednesday evening that he hadn’t received any requests to interview Dooley, which is a customary practice in recruiting a coach employed elsewhere.
One opening that Dooley was being mentioned as in the running for has been ruled out. Fresno State’s Rodney Terry was named by UTEP as their next coach on Monday. Dooley had been considered a finalist for the job, according to the El Paso Times.
But East Carolina, where Dooley was the head coach from 1995-99, keeps coming up. In those four seasons, Dooley went 57-52. The Pirates former coach, Jeff Lebo, stepped down eight games into his eighth season at ECU.
The situation for who and how anyone would be doing the hiring at ECU is unclear, though, as the school announced that athletic director Jeff Compher will step down May 1. A special counsel is apparently heading their coaching search, reports The News & Observer.
Other names that have come up in various reports and speculation for the ECU job include Maryland-Baltimore County coach Ryan Odom and Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz.
Speculation this week has also called Dooley a target for Middle Tennessee State.
In five seasons at FGCU, Dooley is 114-58, and has made the NCAA Tournament twice, in 2016 and 2017, and has had 20 or more wins each year. He made $350,000 this season, raised multiple times from his initial salary of $225,000 when he was hired in 2013.
FGCU SEASONS UNDER DOOLEY
2013-14: 22-13, NIT First Round(L 58-53, Florida State)
2014-15: 22-11, CIT First Round(L 75-69, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi)
2015-16: 21-14, NCAA First Round(W 96-65, No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson; L 83-67 No. 1 North Carolina)
2016-17: 26-8, NCAA First Round(L 86-80, No. 3 Florida State)
2017-18: 23-12, NIT First Round(L 80-68, Oklahoma State)
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