Bucknell's Flannery retires after 14 years, to become fundraiser
LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Pat Flannery tugged on his suit before stepping to the podium, a routine he'd performed hundreds of times in postgame news conferences in his 14 years as Bucknell basketball coach.
Friday was different. He wasn't rehashing the Bison's two NCAA tournaments during his tenure, highlighted by an upset of Kansas in 2005, nor explaining how the small Patriot League school could reach the Top 25 the following season.
Flannery was about to announce his retirement.
He said he will step down effective July 1, when he will assume a new job as a fundraiser for the university. He cited a desire to spend more time with family as a big factor in leaving as head coach at his alma mater.
"The one thing you'll notice today, I have a tie on, and I'm not chasing an official," joked Flannery, known for his fiery demeanor on the sideline. "So that will be something I will very much enjoy in my next role."
Bucknell president Brian Mitchell called the decision a "tremendous loss to our basketball program." The school will begin a nationwide coaching search, athletic director John Hardt said.
Flannery had a 234-178 record at Bucknell and won three regular-season conference titles. Bucknell went 11-18 during the past regular season and lost in the second round of the league tournament.
Flannery's tenure will be best remembered for the upset of Kansas in the NCAA tournament three years ago that capped a season full of upsets for the Bison.
The following season, Bucknell became the first Patriot League team to be ranked in the AP Top 25, and defeated Arkansas in the NCAAs to move to the second round again.
His retirement announcement came on a picture-perfect sunny morning in front of the school's Alumni House, adorned with the school colors of bright orange and blue.
Birds chirped in the background as Flannery, flanked by his wife and two sons, spoke at a podium under a blooming tree. Some team members and his staff watched from a closed-off campus street.
"They're growing up too fast, really too fast," the 50-year-old Flannery, who has been in the coaching profession for 28 years, said about his sons. "I'm really looking forward to spending more time" with them.
Flannery experienced health problems in recent years and missed a few games this season with an illness the university declined to discuss. Flannery said he's completely healthy and his health had nothing to do directly with the decision that had been "coming over years."
But he said the illness, along with the sudden death last year of Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, were factors in pondering a change. Prosser's son, Mark, is a Bucknell assistant.
Flannery's bosses had been aware that he had explored administrative opportunities at other schools in the past. The opportunity from Mitchell to move to a fundraising role was only recently presented, and a decision made within three days, Flannery said.
In breaking the news to his team Thursday, Bucknell relayed a saying from former player Abe Badmus.
"Painless memories," he said. "That means no regrets, and that's exactly where I'm at in my life right now, and I couldn't be happier."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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