Barry Hinson press conference transcript




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    March 28, 2012

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Head coach Barry Hinson, Chancellor Rita Cheng and Director of Athletics Mario Moccia took questions from the media during today's press conference at SIU Arena.

    Rita Cheng: Good afternoon everyone, thank you for being here. I want to first thank Athletics Director Mario Moccia and the members of the search committee for their diligence. There is a lot of competition out there for quality leaders with 30 Division I coaching jobs open. This was, I assure you an exhausting search. The committee members invested many hours in the process. They put business and family aside and made sure we had the right fit for our program and our university. I really appreciate their commitment and I hope you do too.

    The committee conducted an efficient and highly professional search that led to a positive outcome. When the committee recommended the finalist, I was very eager to meet each one. It was an excellent group of individuals, but one stood out for me. Coach Barry Hinson comes from a great tradition. He has enjoyed much success on the basketball court in his career, including against our Salukis. I am happy that he will be with us, instead of against us when the fall semester starts. He is currently on the staff of the University of Kansas basketball team, which is currently playing in the Final Four. There is no question that he knows how to win.

    Most importantly coach Hinson has an excellent record when it comes to players earning their degrees. We all want to see a winning basketball team, but we also know that the ultimate victory is when our student-athletes return to this floor, not in their uniforms, but in their caps and gowns. Coach Hinson shares that passion. In our conversations we talked about Barry's commitment to the personal development and education of our young men...coach Hinson's student athletes' graduate.

     

     

    I want to share with you some comments from Barry's current boss, in his letter of recommendation, Kansas head coach Bill Self wrote, "I have never been around a more positive, energetic, or unselfish person." Coach Self described Barry as, "loyal, ethical, a good coach, and can recruit." "I love the guy, the community, staff, player, and administration, will also love him in Carbondale." Coach Self went on to say, "Barry Hinson gets it, he would be a great person to work with, and build the Southern Illinois basketball program the way I am sure the chancellor would be proud of."

    That is a strong endorsement from a highly recognized basketball coach. I am confident that Barry will be an outstanding leader, teacher, and ambassador to this university. We really are pleased that he will be the next coach, and we welcome Barry and his wife Angie to the SIU family and the Southern Illinois community. It is now my pleasure to introduce Director of Athletics Mario Moccia.

    Mario Moccia:

    Thank you everyone for coming out today, and for those of you watching on Saluki-Vision. Today we open a new chapter in Saluki history, but first I would like to say thank you to the band, our spirit squad, as well as brown and grey dawg for being here today. First of all, I have to thank my wife for putting up with me during this search. I don't think there were many times that I wasn't on the phone, or on the computer, or I just wasn't home. She just pretended that she had a one-month vacation and I just want to thank her personally for putting up with me throughout this time.

    I would also like to thank the committee...we put together a diverse group, with specific athletic, academic, and business backgrounds. Some of them are here today and I want to recognize them. John Nicklow, our Provost, a former student-athlete. Connie Price-Smith, our current track coach and four-time Olympian. Greg Starrick, not only as our color commentator, but a great former Saluki, and his basketball knowledge was very important to me as well. Faculty rep Harold Bardo, also a former basketball player. Roger Tedrick is out of town, a former chairman of the Board of Trustees, and a Southern Illinois businessman. Finally, Greg Cook, a great friend of the program, a great businessman, and friend. I would be remiss if I didn't call him out personally for all his time and all his resources. It means a lot to have a person like that around you. We also have MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin here with us. I would like to thank our staff, my assistant, Brad Taylor and Chet Savage, our Deputy AD. They dropped everything to work on this search. Logistics, paperwork, you name it...they did a tremendous job. Also our general counsel Debbie Nelson, she did a great job staying up late and firing contracts out. Certainly my boss, Dr. Rita Cheng...I don't think she has ever gotten more phone calls at 11-12:30 at night, to keep her informed of every development, and she answered every one of them. I would like to thank the finalists; there was an unbelievable amount of interest in this job. Over the last 24 hours I have spoken with all of the finalists and I know they all appreciate the process.

    Just to recap the selection process. We met on Friday, Mar. 2, that was 26 days ago and we described the qualities that we are looking for in our search. We wanted a coach who focused on academics, we were looking for someone who was based in the Midwest, and preferred previous coaching experience, a winning background, someone who could connect with the community, a solid recruiter, a good communicator, and someone who could be positive with our players. We started out with 800 bios from coaches all across the country. We got that down to 64 on the Saturday in St. Louis. We got that down to 10 finalists that we all met with personally, and then we brought in the last four into Carbondale to meet with the chancellor, and we made our selection. It was through this thorough and comprehensive search that I do believe we found our guy in Barry Hinson.

    Now we have some challenges for Saluki basketball... we have to improve our academics and our graduation rate. We have to improve our performance on the court, and we have to re-connect with our fan base.

    Here is what I think we got with Mr. Hinson; his record of academics is pretty impressive. In 11 years as a head coach, out of 48 players that completed their senior seasons, 46 of them have received their degrees. Coach is ready to totally integrate himself into our community as soon as the Final Four ends. I know that he is someone who strives to prove himself, I can tell that from our discussions, and from the committee, and that made a tremendous impact on me. In his first two years of coaching at Oral Roberts, he won 36 games and in nine years at Southwest Missouri State he won 169 games. A couple little tidbits, only SIU and Creighton during that time-span won more games. He won 15 more games than the next closest opponent. Coach Hinson managed to beat us 10 times and that was more times than any other coach. In those years, the Salukis lost only 40 conference games, and coach Hinson was responsible for 25 percent of those. For the last four years he has been at one of the most storied men's basketball programs in the country, alongside Bill Self, won four Big 12 Championships and 106 games, and maybe two more. He has a tremendous wife, Angie. Coach Hinson has hit the ground running, he has met with the team, spoken with recruits, met with the athletics staff, and he is ready to go. At this time it is my pleasure to introduce the next coach of Saluki basketball, Barry Hinson.

    Barry Hinson:

    Let me recognize our players. My wife swore to me she would never wear maroon again, but Mario convinced her this was a prettier maroon. My mother and father always taught me to be thankful. I just want to thank you for letting me be here today. I want to thank the committee for giving me this opportunity. I really enjoyed the interview process. I am a great part of a lot of those banners up there. Let me say, it is some transformation this place has had, a completely different feel it has. I know a lot of you have made contributions to make this happen, and I thank you so much for donating to our family.

    I want to thank my wife for putting up with me during this time; I really do think it is a pretty maroon she is wearing today. I want to thank Bill Self, and the University of Kansas for allowing me to be a part of their great program over the last four years. When I was relieved of my duties at Missouri State, coach Self gave me the opportunity to work with one of the best programs in the nation. We have a chance to go to play in the national championship on Saturday and I am real giddy about that.

    I had a great meeting with the team just now, and I am looking forward to getting back next week and getting to work for next fall. I am really excited, I went through and tried to pronounce each of their names right, and Dantiel asked me, "where are you from." I said I have a little bit of an accent. I met our academic coordinator, our strength and conditioning coordinator, who are going to be a huge part of our success. I've had a chance to meet the managers, the staff, and I have told them how happy I am to be a part of their family.

    I know where this program has been, I know what this program has done, and I know what this program can do, and I am happy to be here and be a part of it.

    I want to tell you this, and it might be the most important thing I tell you today, I consider it to be a privilege to be your head coach, and not a right.

    I told the committee, I told Mario and the Chancellor when we interviewed, "I want to come home, I want to come home."

    From this day on I am going to use the term "win", because what we have accomplished here is fantastic, and what we are going to accomplish is going to be even better. I am really excited about that. I want to add to the level of success we have had on the court, but also off the court.

    I have over the four years been able to sit on the bench with one of the best basketball coaches in the country at this time. What we have done over the last four years, I am just really excited to go to work. It has been a privilege to be there, but it is a real privilege to be here.

    I have already spoken to some of our recruits, and I had one guy that told me he was excited about me, and I told him, "not as much as I was excited about him.'

    I will end with this...they asked me if I had any questions, and I said I had a lot of questions. I want to ask you just one question...and I want you to be completely honest. "If you have an issue with me, then I want to address it right now." I will never forget what Roger Tedrick looked at me and said "If there was an issue coach, you wouldn't be in this room today." I appreciated that. I told them and I will tell you, I don't have a scarlet letter, I'm not damaged goods, we have been successful, and we are going to continue to be successful at Southern Illinois University.

    Q: The Kansas program obviously speaks for itself. With the role that you had as director of basketball operations, how do you feel that different role than you've done in past coaching jobs will play in here and get you ready for the job and the rebuilding effort that you have here at SIU?

    Hinson: I've been to practice four years. Every day I got to go to practice. I never coached while I was on the floor at Kansas. I always just stood to the side. To be a part of that program and to sit on the bench, and to sit there during the games, I just think that is great experience. I was part of four-straight Big 12 championships. It just culminated last week going to the Final Four. I hope that is enough experience, because I've learned an awful lot.

    Q: Mario went over your record. That 2006 snub with the NCAA committee -- how much is that a motivating factor, and in terms of the NCAA Tournament, is that something you feel you've got to prove?

    Hinson: I don't think I can use the term that I told the committee. I said, `I don't think you're going to hire one coach that is going to come into this program that is more perturbed than I am.' Every year I am on the treadmill during the NCAA Tournament, and I watch the conference championships being played and I am sitting there, or I'm in there with coaches and it will flash up -- the top five RPI teams never to get in the NCAA Tournament, 21, 34 and 36. Three of those are my teams. I'm not very happy about that. Is it a motivating factor? You are doggone right it is.

    Q: Will you be using a similar offensive and defensive scheme than you used at Souhtwest Missouri, or is it some kind of hybrid, or something new?

    Hinson: I tell you what I think we are going to do is everything we do at Kansas right now offensively, which is pretty much similar to what we did at Missouri State with a few wrinkles. I think I'm just going to follow that recipe, if that's OK.

    Q: A lot has been said about Bruce Weber and this job. I was wondering how that played into your decision or if it did at all?

    Hinson: According to my multiple sources, which were my wife and my mother, I was the first choice here. Let me tell you this, and let me tell all of Saluki Nation -- I think Bruce Weber is a heck of a coach. If Bruce Weber would have wanted to come back to Southern Illinois, fantastic. That is great. Maybe in my notes, I should have thanked Bruce Weber as well. I know this. I know when I got the phone call from Mario, I was extremely happy and I am glad to be your coach.

    Q: This is a two-parter. When you met with the players what did you tell them? And what was the reaction of the recruits when you spoke to them? Did you get any indication whether they'll both come?

    Hinson: I met 50 percent, because I only spoke to one of the two (recruits). I told him I was excited. He said, `Well, I'm really excited, coach.' I said, `Do you want to be my point guard for the next four years? Do you want to come in here and play and be the quarterback?' He said, `Yep.' I think that means he's coming. I told (the players) my expectations. I asked them, `How many of you know the difference between right and wrong.' They all raised their hands. That is pretty much all I needed to do.

    Q: What is the biggest thing you want to improve with the play on the court right now?

    Hinson: I haven't seen anything. That wouldn't be fair for me to sit here and tell you I've watched all your games, because that's not right. I was at Kansas. I saw one game this year. I saw Tim Jankovich's team (Illinois State) come in here and get their tails whipped by the Southern Illinois Salukis. I watched that game because Tim Jankovich is one of my very good friends. It was a pretty good game to watch on my end now.

    Q: This one's for Mario. A couple of questions about what you mentioned at the podium. How was the job perceived overall going into your search? And number two, you mentioned about coach Hinson and the interview process the passion and how you and the chancellor were very respectful and appreciative of that, if you could talk about those two things.

    Moccia: The first question about how the job is perceived out there -- it is perceived very, very high. As the chancellor said, we were keeping track every time there was a job that came open, we'd add it to the list and fill in a box when it got filled. We'd kind of figure out which jobs were paying more or which were perceived as the best. We are obviously in a tremendous league. I think we are in a place that has an opportunity to win the league year-in and year-out. There weren't a whole lot of teams on that list of 30. Some of our salary structure had changed from our last situation, so we were dealing with maybe a different group. But a ton of people were interested. Associate head coaches from BCS schools, former head coaches -- we received an awful lot of inquiry. As far as the passion displayed, I like that. I like somebody with a chip on their shoulder. I like somebody who wakes up every day and says, `What can I do to win, because I want to prove something.' That is the region we are in. Most of our staff, that is what drives them too. You get up in the morning and you say, `How can we beat Illinois State. How can we beat UNI. How can we beat Creighton? What is going to give us the best edge?' To have a head coach who has that drive is something that was very important at least for me personally to hear that come across in the interview process. Quite frankly, other people would call on his behalf and just drive home the fact that coach Hinson has an unbelievable drive to prove himself. I think that is a tremendous motivator for future success.

    Q: Coach, how does if feel to be back in the Missouri Valley? Do you feel there will be any kind of adjustment period since you have been at a BCS school with Kansas the last four years, coming back to a mid-major?

    Hinson: I don't know about an adjustment period. Without question, I have been very public about how I feel about this conference. I just love it. When I said I want to come home, that is what I meant. I've been at the top level of college basketball there at Kansas. That speaks volumes about how bad I wanted to get back in this league. I've had opportunities over the four years that I've been out. I've had opportunities to be a coach somewhere else. They weren't the right job for me. When this job came open, specifically in the Missouri Valley Conference, and knowing what I know about Carbondale, I really wanted this job. I tried the best I could to present that to everybody I ran across.

    Q: What are your immediate goals for the team for the next year and have you given any thought who you'll bring onto your staff?

    Hinson: That was one of the questions that one of the players asked. I haven't made any decisions on what we are going to do staff-wise. It has kind of been a whirlwind over the time. When I get back from New Orleans, I am going to sit down and figure out what will be the best for our program and what's the best for our players. Immediate goals -- I want to win. I want to win every game that we play. Is that possible? Sure, but I'm also a realist. I don't want anybody to think that we are just going to try to be average or mediocre. We are going to try our best to win every time we hit the court. We are going to try to do our best off the court, in the community, in the classroom and on the floor. It's just the right thing to do.

    Q: Have you signed a contract, or are you still working for Kansas until after the Final Four?

    Hinson: I had to sign a piece of paper before I walked in here. I've signed a contract. I'm going to work for the University of Kansas until Monday night at about 11:00 if that is OK with you.

    Q: The fan base here was not happy the last few years. How do you intend to address that and get the people happy?

    Hinson: I am sorry they have been unhappy, and I'm going to do everything I can to make them happier. How do you do that? First of all, you do that by winning. The best way to get these people back is for us to work our tails off and do our very best. I promise you we'll do that.

    Q: What is one key value that you are going to stress to your players in the coming year?

    Hinson: There are so many variables with that. There will be so many things that we stress. I met with Justin Bocot this morning and I am going to meet with Mamadou (Seck) later. I want them to know that I know I am not their coach, but I want them to graduate. I am going to tell them and their parents I'm going to do everything we could do to make sure they have a degree that will last them the rest of their lives. As far as these young men over here, I expect the same out of them. They know the difference between right and wrong. I don't know what has happened in the past. I don't care. The only thing that matters is what happens from today. I promise our professors they'll all be in class tomorrow and they'll be ready to go. They are going to be sore by the end of the week, because we are going to start lifting our tails off.

    Q: This question is for Mario. From all the candidates you could have hired, he hasn't been actively recruiting or coaching for the last four years. Was that a big factor, or was there something Barry had that didn't even make it a factor for you?

    Moccia: I think when you are conducting a search, you really rely on talking to a lot of people. Some people are going to be advocates. Obviously people like coach (Bill) Self and coach (Roy) Williams are going to be advocates for coach Hinson. I also take them at their word. We've also got some personal ties in the recruiting world. We had a wonderful student-athlete here, Bryan Mullins, whose father Mike is not only a supporter of our program and a great guy, but he also runs one of the top AAU programs in Chicago. It was wonderful to be able to vet all of the candidates through him as well as some other folks in Texas. A guy named Kyle Weems, the MVC Player of the Year last year -- coach Hinson recruited him. You look at all the teams and all those players, I don't think you win all those games without the ability to recruit. Certainly by talking to people in the world in recruiting, specifically AAU coaches, you can formulate an opinion. I have not doubt whatsoever that coach Hinson can recruit at the highest levels to be successful in the conference.

    Q: Coach, you are infamous for your barbecue skills. I read you have your own smoker. I was wondering if you plan to continue that tradition at SIU?

    Hinson: I am going to work on coaching basketball, and maybe every once in a while we'll pull the trailer out. I'll probably do it more in my back yard and for my neighbors than anything, but the first people I'm going to barbecue for is going to be (the players). I'll take care of my guys.

    Q: One of the problems we've had over the past couple of years while you have had success at Kansas and we've been struggling is our recruiting base has changed from high school kids to junior college and transfer players. What would be your recruiting philosophy?

    Hinson: I just want the best players. I'm not going to label a kid a transfer or a junior college or a four-year or five-year. The success of this conference goes back to guys like Darren Brooks. To be successful in the Missouri Valley Conference, it's really important that you have the foundation of fourth and fifth-year seniors in your program as much as possible. In order for use to be able to do that, that means we have to recruit incoming freshmen, we have to use a redshirt program and we have to have a sprinkling of either transfers or junior college players. I am not into quick fixes. I want to make sure we do it right and get the best kids to fit our program. We're not rebuilding. I'm not into that term.

    Q: What are your thoughts on scheduling?

    Hinson: If you go back and look at what we did at my previous employer, we played one of, if not the toughest schedule, each year. I've coached 11 years, and in that 11 years, I think we have only played two non-Division Ones. A lot of conferences, they are plying anywhere from two to four. We are going to play the very best schedule we can, not only for our players to prepare us for Missouri Valley Conference play, but also for our fan base. I really like to play local-area schools as much as possible. I am so happy that we are playing Saint Louis. I think that important that we keep that going. I would love to play Memphis. But I've been on the other side and I know -- they are not going to play you at Carbondale. You have to be creative as much as you can. Let's play the very best mid-major programs that you can and do the best that you can. Our schedule is set for the next two or three years, so it is going to take us a while to get some teams in here, but I certainly want to play great competition.

    Q: What are your thoughts about the SIU/Creighton Rivalry?

    Hinson: Its funny you mention that because Greg McDermott called me last night and congratulated me and I said `Greg those days of you shooting 70 percent in our facility are over.' I say that with a sense of sarcasm but I got Dana Altman texting me last night and I heard from Greg McDermott calling me and several other people in the Valley along with a lot of assistants in the Valley and I go back. Greg said `Welcome Back' and when is say I wanted to come home that's exactly what I mean. When I got into a recruits home and I tell them and I sit there in front of that family and maybe they want to play in a BCS conference and I explain to them that's when you play at Illinois State and there are nine or ten thousand people there and when you play at Bradley where they play on that on top of that hockey arena floor and they serve alcoholic beverages it's going to be unbelievable when you come out of that tunnel. When you play at Drake its going to be sold out, when you play at UNI its going to be sold out, when you play at Creighton it might not be sold out but you're still going to have 16,700 people in the stands. There is a good chance that when we play at Missouri State this year its going to be a sell out. I know when we play Missouri State here this year it better be a sell out. So when I speak of this conference and of these coaches, I do have that passion because I absolutely love the Missouri Valley Conference and it is where I want to be. And thank goodness the Athletic Director and the Chancellor asked me to do it. Thank you.

    Q: Have you given any thought about how your assistant coaching staff will be comprised?

    Hinson: I think what we'll do is take the next couple of weeks and try to figure out what is best and I know and I met Brad (Korn) because Brad helped kick my butt in a couple of games. He's still the only guy who we would attack with ball screens. We said never ball screen anywhere near Randal Falker and just ball screen where Brad is. No I'm just kidding, Brad, but I know Ron Smith real well and I've met Matt McCumber before and we will make some decisions and do what is best for the program.

    Q: How much did Coach Hinson's experience in the Valley factor in the decision?

    Mario Moccia: It was pretty important. We certainly looked at the Midwest obviously for recruiting, for familiarity but you know the Missouri Valley Conference if you talk to other coaches outside of the conference the reason is we've had so much success, a lot of people will tell you, is that this is a scouting league. We've had very, very good coaches who are very good at breaking down film and exploiting other team's weaknesses. I think someone who has that familiarity was a very big deal and now look every coach does that but if you ask around the Valley is known as a scouting league. That's' why we've had our success and that's why we are the eighth-ranked conference in relationship to the other 32 conferences out there. That did have something to do with that. And you know the other thing is that right before we were ready to come out here Tony Young was out here and Coach thought he might have another year of eligibility but he did not.

    Hinson: Tony emailed me yesterday and he said `I don't know if you remember me' and I said `Yeah you were a pain in my butt'

    Q: How much earlier before you actually made the phone call to Coach Hinson did you decide if he would be the new coach?

    Mario Moccia: I think once the four candidates had come into Carbondale we kind of got together with the chancellor and she let me know know some of her thoughts and mentally which ones she was putting into what order and certainly got her thoughts and gave her my recommendations and she agreed. So pretty much immediately after the last person was in it allowed us to make our decision and it didn't take too much time after that.

    Q: What is the one thing people should know about you?

    Barry Hinson: I think the best way to answer that question is to say I'm a positive person. This place here is a pretty special place and I know that. I really, really wanted this basketball job and I pursued it in every avenue that I could without bugging the Chancellor or without bugging Mario.

    Q: When you sent out your tweet this morning you posted "we are going to do everything possible we can do to turn this around" what does that mean?

    Mario: I've been laying off Twitter during this search and when they news hit today you can't get wrapped up in it but when you see the things Jay Bilas, Andy Katz, and Doug Gottleib and a lot of the other basketball pundits in the country were saying it could go either way. Early this morning, I was telling my wife Heidi about all the positive things they were saying and the players were retweeting what the things they were saying too. We can't be ashamed of saying where this program is at we've been eight; ninth, and ninth place that is something the Salukis cannot do. That is an impact on the city of St. Louis with the Missouri Valley Conference tournament but we have fans that expect excellence from the basketball program and they should. We went to six straight NCAA basketball tournaments recently only 13 programs had gone to six straight in at that point in time and with the facilities up grade, with the right coach, with our recruiting things like that but we can get back there. Not necessarily tomorrow but I think we can get there in a decent amount of time. It starts by our students going to class, it starts with getting our mojo back into the community and getting out kids back out in front of our fans and that's something we didn't do as much. We want to get better in the classroom, we want to introduce our kids to the community and we want our head coach to get out and meet some people to ask them to come back out and support us. And I'm going to do the same thing too. I'm going to ask our fans to come back and support us and I know our head coach is going to do that too.

    Q: The financial restraints have really affected the bottom line for the school. How much of a role did that play in the contract Coach Hinson signed and did it affect if we could hire someone or not?

    Cheng: We went into this process knowing we had financial constraints and we were up front with all the candidates about that so we weren't about mirroring the contract of the past we were creating something different and money did not come down to an up or down with anyone who was in the pool because everyone who was in that knew we were putting together a fair and modest package for the next coach. There is plenty of room in the contact for incentives for academics, winning and going deep into the NCAA tournament and we will make sure to share revenue for that. I didn't have any sense that anybody was coming in saying they were going to play us for more money. I would like to say also that this is an exceptional university. There is high quality in every dimension of this university and we approached this hire to make sure men's basketball was a shining star.

    Q: What was Coach Self's reaction?

    Hinson: I don't think we were really done until 5:30 last night when we finished the contract. I told the players this: I'm not really a thermostat - I'm a thermometer, you can pretty much leave me the way I am. He would walk by my office every fifteen minutes and say, "Have you heard anything? Have they called?" to where I'm starting to get nervous. When Mario called me my heart started beating, but I finally went in there at about 5:30 and said, "Hey Coach, it's done." It was just one of those great moments, and he said, "I'm proud of you," and he said, "You deserve this," and he said he's really happy for me, and he is, he's genuinely happy. I'll tell you the story, and I think people really need to know this because this explains who Bill Self really is. We beat North Carolina to go to the Final Four. We had gone through the line and had shook all the hands, and he turns to me and hugs me and says, "The only way this could be better is if you get the job." And that's Bill Self. He wasn't a coach, he wasn't my boss, he is like a brother, and I love him. He rescued me when I needed to be rescued. When you actually take every grocery bag and put down a schedule of which grocery stores to hit on what day, that's when it's time for you to get another job.

    Q: Has Chris Lowery contacted you to either congratulate or give advice?

    Hinson: I haven't talked to Chris, but I'll say this: Chris Lowery is not a friend: Chris Lowery is a good friend. And I'll leave it at that.

    Q: If the program doesn't make a turnaround and rebuild, what are the implications for the University?

    Cheng: Mario and I talked through this whole process. We knew that there were dimensions of academics, there were dimensions of community outreach, there were issues with organization for coaching the whole program. It is a program that needs to be - what did you say, rebuilt? And, it's a program that needs to grow from a foundation that it has. As you approach every aspect of the University as a chancellor, Mario and I often talk that athletics isn't "The Show." "The Show" is really academics. However, athletics plays a really important role in a public research university. It is a great contributor to student life and a huge outreach to our community, our alums, our donors and our friends. This has to be an exceptional program. When you go down the list of sports programs that SIU sponsors, take a look at our football program, take a look at our softball program, take a look at our track and field program. Take a look at tennis, golf - we have great programs. We really need to have men's basketball shine, and I know that we have the right pieces in place and we've got a good combination.

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