July 15, 2009 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Brown Faces Obstacles In Coaching Pick

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

As Brown continues to interview candidates for their head coach opening, it's worth also talking about those who are not candidates.

According to sources, Brown's head coaching position is the lowest paid in the ECAC, making it difficult to bring in the most attractive candidates.

First off, there are six candidates known to be interviewing. They include 1994 Brown alum and current Dartmouth assistant Brendan Whittet; Boston College assistant Mike Cavanaugh; Colorado College assistant Joe Bonnett; Union assistant, and Providence alum, Rick Bennett; Massachusetts assistant Red Gendron; and Mark Workman, who was an assistant under outgoing coach Roger Grillo.

Then there are those who decided not to apply.

Dartmouth's other assistant, Dave Peters, as highly-qualified an assistant as there is in the East, decided to stay out of the running out of respect to colleague Whittet. Stan Moore, an assistant at Providence, is a two-time ECAC Coach of the Year.

Tim Bothwell is a Brown alum, played 502 NHL games as a defenseman, and was a successful junior coach and NHL assistant. He was offered the Brown job in 1997, but turned it down at the last minute for family reasons, before it was offered to Grillo. Bothwell is now head coach of the Vermont women's team.

Brian Riley is a Brown alum, now head coach at Army. His family connections and higher salary at Army, make it more appealing than Brown.

Billy Gilligan, another former Brown player, was an assistant at Massachusetts before leaving to be a head coach in Europe (Austria). Brown really wanted him, but he is, according to sources, making over $200,000 per year in Europe.

This is nothing against the assistant coaches the school is interviewing. We've said it before and we'll say it again — there are numerous assistant coaches in college hockey that are worthy of being head coaches at the Division I level. There are just not enough jobs to go around.

Any one of the people being interviewed may, indeed, turn out to be a great head coach for the Bears.

But Brown's financial policy certainly hamstrings the athletic department's decision making.

One reason for Brown's dilemma is Title IX — and this is not an article dumping on Title IX, so don't misunderstand. But if you recall, Brown University was ground zero for a landmark Title IX decision in 1996. It was a four-year legal battle that cost the university half a million dollars, and was eventually decided by the Supreme Court. Brown lost, and the memories linger.

Brown thus toes the line closely, and its men's hockey coaching salary must come close to that of women's head coach Digit Murphy, who applied for the men's opening, or else create a potential new firestorm.

The mean ECAC head coaching salary is around $150,000 annually, and Brown is nowhere near that. In addition, its staff is barely given the resources of what part timers would get.

Brown also does not utilize its financial aid packages as creatively as the other Ivy League ECAC schools do, furthering the disadvantage.

This is not necessarily a full defense of Grillo, whose record was dreadful on paper, and was just as problematic behind the scenes — players leaving with ill will, players signing letters requesting his dismissal, and so on.

But it's easy to dump on someone when they lose, and there is more to every story.

Brown could be good. It made the NCAAs under Bob Gaudet in the early 1990s, and there's no reason why — if it really wanted to — it couldn't compete as well as Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale do now.

"Obviously, there are things that are important," Brown AD Michael Goldberger said about the search. "Clearly an understanding of what it's like at an Ivy League school. Athletics are an essential part of the educational mission of the institution. Someone who has demonstrated that they can be successful. It's important that it is a person with integrity."

Brown will get someone like that. The candidates mentioned will work hard. Whether it's the best candidate the school could've had, and whether that new coach will get all the resources he needs to compete, is another story entirely.

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