By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
A record 361 applicants have applied for the vacant University of Hawaii at Hilo head men’s basketball coach position and the goal to have someone on board by early June is still within reach, according to athletic director Dexter Irvin.
“The review committee has been working hard and gotten down to about 160 applicants who met the minimum requirements for the job,” Irvin said Tuesday. “The committee members will meet again next week and try to get it down to 10 or so, and then will do Skype interviews on May 15-16. Once they do that, they’ll check references and hopefully be able to make a recommendation to me on May 20 with their top four, five or six candidates.”
Once Irvin gets that ranking list from the five-member committee, headed by UHH AD-compliance Pam Knox, he’ll decide to either bring in the finalists for an interview or interview them on Skype.
“By the last week of May, I hope to make a recommendation to the chancellor,” Irvin said. “I also hope to make an offer to the top candidate by June 1. We’ve got to make sure all our our paper work is in order so I can negotiate with the choice to get the hiring done.
“We’d like to have the new coach on board by the first week of June but that’s contingent on what that person has going on. We’d like to have the new coach by the first week in June but we might not be able to get that person here until July 1.”
The coaching position opened up after the 2012-13 season when longtime head coach Jeff Law left the NCAA Division II school to accept the head coaching job at Western New Mexico University. Law spent 15 seasons leading the Vulcans, including this past year when they finished 6-19 overall and 4-13 in the Pacific West Conference.
Irvin said UHH has signed two basketball recruits and all five returnees from this past year’s squad have said they will return for next season. The AD said the new head coach would have four scholarships to work with when he steps on board.
Zac Zepponi, one of Law’s assistant coaches, has worked with Irvin to oversee the program since Law left for Western New Mexico. Zepponi and Irvin agreed on the two newest recruits, junior-college players from California, and signed them.
“We wanted the new coach to have a core to work with,” Irvin said.
The new coach will work directly under Irvin and although a salary was not posted with the original job description, it’s believed to be within the $55,000 to $65,000 range, in line with some similar NCAA D-II positions on the mainland.
Irvin also noted that the Board of Regents will meet May 16 and hopefully approve a UHH move to hire a Director of Soccer.
“That person would oversee both men’s and women’s soccer,” Irvin said.”Once we get approval from the Board of Regents, we’ll look to go ahead and hire the Director of Soccer as soon as we can.”
The current Vulcan soccer coaches are Jeffrey “Ziggy” Korytoski (men) and Unity Beddingfield (women).
Note: The 361 applicants for the UHH men’s basketball job is the most ever to apply for a coaching position at the school.
Previously, 251 applicants applied for the women’s head basketball coaching job when it opened up three years ago.
David Kaneshiro, a men’s assistant to Law at the time, was hired as the UHH women’s coach and continues in that permanent position.