- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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The University of New Orleans, in the midst of a major post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding campaign, hired Texas A&M assistant Buzz Williams to replace Monte Towe.
"Buzz Williams is the right man at the right time for Privateers basketball,'' athletic director Jim Miller said Saturday in making the official announcement. "He has a tireless work ethic, he knows the game, he is a diligent recruiter and he understands that we are here to graduate our student-athletes. We are very fortunate to have someone of Buzz's character and qualifications."
Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie confirmed to ESPN.com on Friday that Williams, 33, had accepted the offer to become the Privateers' next coach.
Williams arrives at UNO's campus during a critical time after it dropped down below (to nine) the NCAA mandatory 14 sports due to budget constraints because of lower enrollment after Katrina hit in August. UNO athletic director Jim Miller has said the NCAA gave the Privateers four years to get back up to the NCAA minimum.
Towe left UNO for NC State last month where he returned to his alma mater to work with Sidney Lowe. Lowe, an assistant with the Detroit Pistons, replaced Herb Sendek, who went to Arizona State in late March.
The Privateers finished 10-19 overall, 6-9 in the Sun Belt last season, which was quite remarkable considering the team's best player Bo McCalebb played only four games due to a fractured wrist.
McCalebb is back and so are three of the top five scorers on the team. The Privateers also bring back 6-foot-10 center Ben Elias, who was supposed to be a stud in the middle but played in only two games due to an ACL injury.
Williams beat out Oklahoma City head coach Ray Harper, Cal assistant Joe Pasternack and former Georgetown assistant Jaren Jackson for the job -- the latter two are from the area. Georgia Southern coach Jeff Price withdrew his name Thursday.
Williams is the second assistant to leave Texas A&M this spring. Steve Forbes left the Aggies for a similar position with Tennessee.
"It causes you some anxiety," Gillispie said of losing two assistants.
"But Buzz has done a fantastic job and so did Steve. It's a great situation for Steve and a great opportunity for Buzz."
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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