Search for coach commences at Canisius
By MIKE HARRINGTON
News Sports Reporter
The search for a new men's basketball coach
is on at Canisius and Athletics Director Bill Maher said the college needs to
make a greater commitment to its coaching staff to compete in the Metro
Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Canisius announced the firing of Mike MacDonald after nine seasons Wednesday.
MacDonald was making about $100,000 and the total salary of the head man and
his three assistants is believed to be in the $200,000 range. That pales in
comparison to some MAAC schools; conference champion Iona, for instance, pays
head coach Jeff Ruland $350,000 per year.
"Finances at any level of college athletics are a consideration," Maher said
Thursday. "[College President Vincent M. Cooke] and the administration are
committed to building a competitive athletics program and basketball is
obviously a very important part of it. They understand there are other pieces
that go into it. To find the right coach for Canisius College we have to make
adjustments and we're prepared to do that."
Asked if a key component is an increase in staff salaries, Maher said, "It's
part of the big picture and yes it would be."
The big picture of wins and losses is what brought down MacDonald. The Golden
Griffins were 9-20 this year and 108-153 in MacDonald's nine seasons.
"He's been very, very positive but you have to look at the full body of work,"
Maher said. "In Division I athletics, they keep score. We know where we stand
and we want to improve as a college and continue to make progress."
MacDonald met with the media in the Koessler Center and said he has no
"Canisius is a very special place . . . It's a bottom line business
unfortunately," MacDonald said. "If the only thing we can be accused of is not
winning enough games, I leave here with my head held high because we've had
guys who've acted the right way."
MacDonald met with his team late Wednesday night to break the news of his
dismissal. The school did not make players available Thursday.
"It was difficult but I told them I was down in that locker room after Richard
Jones passed away [in 2004] and that was a tragedy," MacDonald said.
"[Wednesday night] was not a tragedy. We are not dealing in life and death."
Nevertheless, it was still an emotional day at the school. Maher briefly broke
down when asked how difficult it was to decide the fate of his longtime
"There were a lot of people on Mike's side but the decision to make this
change was my decision," Maher said. "It's tough."
Maher said the three players who have already signed to play at Canisius next
year will be bound to their letters of intent until they meet with the new
coach. One of them, 6-foot-7 Fairport star Cory Magee, will be playing Niagara
Falls Saturday night at Buffalo State.
Maher will choose the next coach without a search committee but will consult
with Cooke and others. He said he's already receiving e-mails about the job
and hopes to have it filled in four to six weeks. He said he will look at head
coaches and assistants from all NCAA levels.
Potential candidates are two former Canisius players, Iona assistant Nick
Macarchuk and Rider assistant Fred Dupree; and Marshall assistant Bob
MacKinnon, a son of the longtime former Canisius coach who has also worked at
Niagara, Notre Dame and North Carolina.
Also expected to pursue the job are University at Buffalo assistant Chris
Hawkins; former Niagara aide Tom Parrotta of Hofstra; and Richmond assistant
Carlin Hartman, the ex-Grand Island star. Maher's radar may also include Penn
State-Behrend head coach Dave Niland, a former Canisius assistant with
MacDonald under John Beilein.
Sources said Providence women's coach Phil Seymore, the former Canisius player
and assistant, and current Canisius women's coach Terry Zeh - who moved from
the men's team in 2004 - are not interested.
News Sports Reporter Rodney McKissic contributed to this report.