The Explorers are hoping to find Philly tie

Originally Published: August 19, 2004
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

La Salle's finally may be ready to name a coach just in time for the start of fall classes next week.

Multiple sources told ESPN.com that the Explorers could hold a news conference as early as Monday after interviewing Maine's John Giannini, Brown's Glen Miller and Northeastern's Ron Everhart this week. The Explorers also talked with current interim coach Bill Dooley about the open position.

Alumnus Fran Dunphy of Penn turned them down last weekend.

La Salle also contacted BU's Dennis Wolf and Vermont's Tom Brennan to gauge their interest, but apparently neither coach is considering the move. And there was also talk that La Salle would even look at some high school coaches with Philadelphia ties.

The Explorers were hoping to get someone with a connection to the city, let alone the school.

Dunphy, a 1970 La Salle graduate, was offered the job after Billy Hahn resigned July 24. Hahn resigned after two of his players were charged in the alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman who had been working at a youth basketball camp run by John Miller, the coach of La Salle's women's basketball team. Miller also resigned. Hahn and Miller were placed on administrative leave July 6.

Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon and Niagara's Joe Mihalich, two coaches with strong Philadelphia ties, already told Brennan they weren't interested. Other coaches mentioned have been East Carolina's Bill Herrion, formerly of Drexel, and UNC Greensboro's Fran McCaffrey, a former Penn assistant. Both haven't been contacted and didn't appear as interested in leaving their respective jobs at this juncture.

Dunphy, who's won eight Ivy League championships in the past 15 seasons at Penn, deliberated for weeks. He finally broke his silence with a statement posted on Penn's Web site Saturday.

"After careful deliberation, I have decided to remain as the head coach of men's basketball at the University of Pennsylvania," the statement read. "I truly believe in La Salle's commitment to make the men's basketball program as good as it can be and I am honored that Brother Michael McGinniss and Athletic Director Tom Brennan felt that I would be a suitable candidate to head the program in the right direction in the future. I appreciate the mutual respect between Brother McGinniss and me, and I am proud that he is leading La Salle University.

"However, in the end, my commitment remains with Penn and continuing to achieve the success that the men's basketball program strives for on an annual basis."

With classes starting in a few weeks, La Salle needs to move quickly. The school needs to start the process of forming its team after both Gary Neal and Mike Cleaves, two of the top three players on last season's team, were dismissed for the alleged rape in June.

During the investigation that led to rape charges, a second woman came forward and allegedly told police she had been sexually assaulted by another men's basketball player at La Salle in 2003 while she was a member of the women's team.

The woman said she had informed both Miller and Hahn that she had been assaulted, but decided not to file charges when the coaches discouraged her from doing so, police said.

Hahn acknowledged speaking to the woman about her problems with the male player, but said his decision not to contact authorities or school administrators was made at her request.

Hahn's lawyer, Nick Nastasi, called the coach's failure to go to police "an honest mistake."

"When a serious allegation like this is made, coaches cannot extend that confidentiality to a player," Nastasi said. "If a student has that kind of problem, they shouldn't put their coaches in that position of requesting confidentiality."

La Salle said that Hahn and Miller didn't adhere to school policy by having the meeting with the alleged victim in 2003 and not reporting it to a counselor. They were supposed to under the Clery Act, a federal law that protects victims of criminal acts like sexual assault on college campuses.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com