Maine coach to replace Hahn

Updated: August 23, 2004, 4:08 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

La Salle is expected to name Maine coach John Giannini as its new men's basketball coach at a Monday afternoon news conference, multiple sources told ESPN.com on Saturday.

Giannini replaces Billy Hahn, who resigned on July 24 amid a sexual assault scandal involving three different men's basketball players in two different incidents the past two years. Sources said Giannini will accept a five-year offer.

Giannini was the frontrunner once Penn coach Fran Dunphy, a La Salle alumnus, withdrew from the search last weekend after he was offered the job. La Salle athletic director Tom Brennan talked to Giannini on the phone while Dunphy was debating the offer and then met with school officials last week in Philadelphia. La Salle also talked to Brown's Glen Miller and Northeastern's Ron Everhart. Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon and Niagara's Joe Mihalich, two coaches with ties to the area, told La Salle they weren't interested. So, too, did Vermont's Tom Brennan and Boston University's Dennis Wolff.

Giannini coached at Division III Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., where he led the Profs to the 1996 national championship. Giannini has said in the past that he knows the Philadelphia area well and could successfully recruit in the city. Giannini led the Black Bears to two America East conference tournament title games in the past three seasons. But he hasn't led Maine to the NCAA Tournament -- a place the Black Bears program has never been. In eight years at Maine, Giannini won 53 percent of his games, benefitting especially from transfers dropping down from a high-major level.

Giannini had applied at La Salle in 2001, the last time the job was open, and was mentioned as a candidate before Hahn moved to the Explorers from Gary Williams' staff at Maryland. Bill Dooley, who was named interim coach after Hahn was put on administrative leave July 9, could be retained.

In the meantime, Maine (20-10, 12-6 in the America East last season) could look to bump up an assistant coach or look elsewhere to the Big East. Assistant coaches at Providence (Steve DeMeo), Boston College (Bill Coen) and Villanova (Fred Hill) are all said to be very interested in the job.

La Salle lost two of its top three players when Michael Cleaves and Gary Neal were dismissed due to the rape allegation that was made in June by a University of New Haven women's basketball player who was working a La Salle camp run by woman's coach John Miller. The player who was accused of committing a sexual assault on a player on the La Salle women's basketball team in April 2003 is still on the team.

A meeting between the La Salle women's player, Hahn and Miller ultimately led to the coaches' forced resignations since they did not report it to a superior -- a violation of the federally-mandated Clery Act, which protects sexual assault victims on college campuses. Like Hahn, Miller resigned on July 24.

The Explorers (10-20, 5-11 in the Atlantic 10 last season) do return junior forward Steven Smith (17.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg), one of the top players at his position in the country. Smith likley will be the focal point of La Salle's 2004-05 offense.

Meanwhile, in a related America East move, the Boston Globe reported Saturday that Everhart will stay put and not pursue an assistant coach opening at Cincinnati. That also means Miller will remain at Brown. He was considered a likely candidate at Northeastern if Everhart left, since Miller played for the Huskies. Miller is trying to keep Brown on the heels of Penn and Princeton in the Ivy League.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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