DePaul willing to spend for coach

Updated: March 16, 2010, 6:07 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Big-name coaches come with big price tags.

That's especially true in the Big East. It cost Louisville to bring in Rick Pitino. West Virginia did the same with Bob Huggins. Villanova has had to pay to keep Jay Wright. Connecticut's Jim Calhoun and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim are compensated nicely.

DePaul gets that.

Speaking for the first time about DePaul's coaching opening, athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said Tuesday that the university wasn't going to cut any financial corners in its search. The next Blue Demons coach can be expected to be paid comparably to the likes of Boeheim, Calhoun, Huggins, Pitino and Wright.

"The board of trustees made a commitment that we should go out and get the best coach DePaul possibly can," Lenti Ponsetto said. "So they have given us the financial resources to be able to do so, and obviously we look to go get the best coach we can and pay them accordingly. It may be that turns out someone who will be very high on the list of paid Big East coaches."

DePaul's official search began over the weekend, according to Lenti Ponsetto. She didn't name names or give a deadline, but she said there were plenty of DePaul's targets coaching in the NCAA tournament, and she hopes to end the search quickly.

NCAA tournament coaches who have been named in previous media reports include Butler's Brad Stevens, Kansas State's Frank Martin, New Mexico's Steve Alford, Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobson and UTEP's Tony Barbee.

Lenti Ponsetto also said DePaul wasn't going to include anyone without head-coaching experience in its search for now. That would eliminate Kentucky assistant Rod Strickland, Utah Jazz assistant coach Tyrone Corbin and former New York Knicks assistant coach Mark Aguirre, all former DePaul players.

Lenti Ponsetto also laid out the priorities for the school's search.

"First and foremost in looking for a new head coach, our goal is to have someone come in here and be successful in the Big East Conference," she said. "That includes somebody who can not only recruit, which is a high priority both locally and nationally, and we need to have someone who has the technical acumen that can coach it up with the likes of many of the hall of fame coaches and the potential hall of fame coaches in the Big East Conference."

The Blue Demons are seeking a long-term coach and not someone who will jump to a different job following some success. After three winning seasons, the Blue Demons lost Dave Leitao to Virginia in 2005.

"We would certainly like to have someone to come here and make a commitment to be at DePaul for a long time," Lenti Ponsetto said. "I think that's one of the reasons why we looked at making a move from a salary perspective in enticing someone who will certainly have to leave a really, really good program to come here and understand that DePaul is making a commitment over the long haul.

"I think our ability to pay people will separate who would be attracted to the DePaul job to the other jobs that are out there."

DePaul interim coach Tracy Webster will be among the candidates, according to Lenti Ponsetto. Webster went 1-15 after he replaced Jerry Wainwright, who was fired in January.

One perceived obstacle remains for DePaul -- its home court. The Blue Demons completed their 30th season at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., an 18,500-seat facility about 15 miles away from campus. Games played on or near campus would figure to draw well.

"DePaul is very much aware that a campus facility is something that a lot of people would like to see, but look around," Ponsetto said. "We're pretty landlocked, and it's not like anything locally in the neighborhood, right in our campus boundaries, is going to change in the very near future.

"It's on DePaul's radar to think about a facility going forward, but at this point in time, that's not what's been about whether or not we can be successful or not be successful."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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