What's next for Valparaiso?
The Victory Bell Search Firm offers a list of candidates for men's basketball opening
In the days after former Valparaiso men’s basketball coach Bryce Drew left for Vanderbilt in 2016, there was mass confusion in nearly every corner of the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Assistant coaches were scrambling to learn their fate. Players were wandering around in a daze, reading the same social media reports that everyone else was getting.
Inside Mark LaBarbera’s office, there was an element of calm. Sure, he wasn’t wild about losing Valparaiso’s favorite son to a Power 5 program, but the then-athletic director wasn’t panicking.
He had his list.
Every athletic director has their list. A list of coaches they would consider if they suddenly had or suddenly wanted an opening on their men’s basketball staff. With Drew on his way to Nashville, LaBarbera opened the proverbial desk drawer and pulled out his list.
Matt Lottich was hired one day later. LaBarbera had his guy.
Fast forward seven years and it remains to be seen which names are on Charles Small’s list following Lottich’s dismissal on Thursday afternoon. The expectation is Valparaiso will enlist the services of Parker Executive Search, the same firm it used for Small’s hiring as Valparaiso’s newest athletic director last spring. (Once you get into bed with a search firm, it’s really hard to get out.)
Small has made several personnel moves in his first 10 months on the job, including hiring softball coach Meaggan Pettipiece and elevating Vincent Walker to the Director of Track & Field and Cross-Country. Small also moved on from former Executive Associate Athletic Director Sarah Pruess last fall.
Those three moves pale in comparison to how Small will be judged based on his men’s basketball choice. While there’s little doubt that Valparaiso President Jose Padilla will be involved in some capacity, this hire will be linked to Small for as long as he’s at Valparaiso.
So, let’s help out the first-year athletic director with a list. Search firms cost money and with Valparaiso likely having to foot the bill for a large buyout to Lottich as well as the art sale situation, The Victory Bell is always looking to save a penny.
Potential Valparaiso Men’s Basketball Coaches (presented in alphabetical order)