Still putting out the media fire created by men’s head basketball coach Mike Rice and recently departed athletic director Tim Pernetti, Rutgers may have the opportunity to land one of the biggest names on the college coaching market.
UCLA fired Ben Howland after 10 seasons and three consecutive trips to the Final Four, and now the 55-year-old coach is reportedly “intrigued” by the Scarlet Knights opening, according to a report by CBS Sports.com Saturday.
However, the report also states that Rutgers will first try to find a new AD before hiring a replacement for Rice.
ESPN aired a video of Rice verbally and physically abusing his players during practice, and a day later was fired. Pernetti then formally resigned Friday, amidst a ground swell of criticism as to why he didn’t terminate Rice sooner.
Now Rutgers president Robert Barchi has the chance to upgrade the school’s basketball program with Howland, just in time for its switch to the Big Ten conference next season.
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Before joining UCLA in 2003, Howland spent five years with Pittsburgh, making him familiar with recruiting not only at the national level, but also the talent-laden Northeast.
Rice’s intimidation tactics failed to produce results on the court, even if some of his former players have spoken out to defend him. In three seasons, Rice had a 44-51 record, with three straight years of sub-.500 ball.
The possible addition of Howland would not only boost recruiting, but also ensure the program is in the hands of a nationally proven coach, and that Rutgers won’t be joining the Big Ten as the conference’s newest doormat.
For his career, Howland has a 390-199 record and has sent 11 players to the NBA, like superstars Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook.
After Rice was fired, but before Pernetti resigned, the school was reportedly looking at New Jersey favorite son Dan Hurley, who is currently coaching Rhode Island, and Detroit Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank.