It’s no secret by now the AD Heather Lyke and Pitt have secured the services of Folger Consulting to help in the search for a new basketball coach to replace the fired Kevin Stallings. From today’s Post-Gazette:
Pitt has turned to consultant Eddie Fogler to assist it in its search for a men’s basketball coach, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Fogler was a Division I head coach for 15 seasons, leading programs at South Carolina (1993-2001), Vanderbilt (1989-93) and Wichita State (1986-89). He was named coach of the year in 1993 by the Associated Press and the National Association of Basketball coaches after leading Vanderbilt to a 28-6 record and an SEC regular season championship.
In 2006, he founded Fogler Consulting to help universities with searches. On its website, Fogler Consulting boasts to have “successfully placed dozens of college coaches across the nation at all levels of Division I basketball.”
That move isn’t going over so well with a lot of Pitt fans given the borderline unethical ‘conflict of interests’ search that was railroaded by our old AD Scott Barnes and his hiring of the Collegiate Sports Associates search firm, who he had prior business dealings with, that delivered Kevin Stallings to us in the first place. But there is a twist involved in this current go-round.
I get periodic phone calls from a friend who is much more intimately knowledgeable about Pitt sports than I am and who is a wealth of information when it comes to the inner workings of the athletic department and issues that surround the athletic programs… and no, he doesn’t work for Pitt.
But this guy hasn’t been wrong once when he’s told me details of something that has happened or if something is about to happen within Pitt athletics whether is has been made public or not. His ear is to the ground in many different places and I trust his information.
Which brings us to what is so interesting about the hiring of Folger Consulting – in that while it was done with an eye toward who will be a good, or even the best, head basketball coach for Pitt , more importantly it is being done for strict vetting purposes to ensure that any prospective head coach doesn’t have any skeletons, large or small, in his closet who will turn the door knob and step out to throw egg on Pitt’s face.
Apparently a large part of the Folger’s work is in extensive background reserach which go much more in-depth than the normal vetting process a university will usually do for new hires. It is reported that Folger has contacts in various law enforcement agencies which can provide him background information not readily accessible to others and not found in regular background checks.
This isn’t hard to believe one bit the more you think about it – especially with the current investigations into collegiate basketball being done by the NCAA and the FBI, and the long tentacled #MeToo movement that has heightened institutional interest in any hire’s harassment infractions no matter how minor or how far in the past they were committed.
And we know how sensitive the University of Pittsburgh is with these issues as a normal course of athletic department business anyway. Hell, three of our most successful modern-day football head coaches were fired while clouds of suspicion regarding inappropriate behaviors or off-field issues swirled around their heads. This consulting hire makes perfect sense in light of that and how we know Pitt ‘s reputation is first and foremost the driving force in the university’s decision-making.
This isn’t really breaking news on any scale really and it makes sense. But it does magnify just what Pitt is contemplating about a new coaching hire- as opposed to what Pitt’s Basketball fans may be thinking – when it comes to candidates to replace Stallings. While fans are looking strictly at any prospective head coaches’ actual on-court coaching and recruiting abilities the university is drastically expanding their search criteria to encompass the whole 360° of the candidate’s life and past actions both on and off the field.
With the hire of Folger it appears that Pitt’s look at possible future coaches surpasses the coaches’ profession characteristics and is being viewed through a high-powered microscope. That is not a bad thing to do. Of course, it may winnow down prospective candidates and may even exclude some coaches who otherwise would be good for the basketball program as far as playing the game goes.
But it is Pitt’s way of doing business.