Transcript of Lisa Love's Press Conference Regarding Men's Basketball

March 10, 2006

Listen to Vice President Lisa Love's Press Conference (Audio courtesy of SunDevilSportsNetwork)


 

 

'This morning at 9:30 am I met with our men's basketball coach Rob Evans and indicated to Rob that we would be changing leadership in our head basketball coaching position. It was a very productive meeting and I can tell you that my perspective on the meeting, in talking to a person that you have come to know quite well over the past eight years, is that I was talking to a humanitarian, a good leader of young men, a wonderful professional, but also a great, great competitor. There is no question about that. The dialogue that we exchanged this morning for about 45-50 minutes was valuable to me, in terms of our information exchange as we talked about the whole issue.

 

'I worked through this season, watching and evaluating our basketball program. I evaluated Rob's body of work for the past eight years and I decided that it was important for ArizonaStateUniversity to make this change. There are things I believe very strongly and I've read a lot of what [the media] has written regarding ArizonaState basketball and what we can do, where we are headed and what our past is. I have a great belief that we can play good basketball. I have a great belief that arguably one of the most exciting events in all of sports in the United States is about to take place, and I'm referring to March Madness and the NCAA basketball tournament, and I would like very much for Arizona State, as a goal, to have a presence in that exciting event on a more frequent basis than three times in 25 years.

 

'I've read the history and taken a look at it. I believe that we can do more in Wells Fargo Arena in terms of attendance and enthusiasm. I am very reminded that we had an all-time record 8,000 student season ticket buyers in the sport of football this year. We are the largest campus in the country, we had 8,000 students buy tickets for football, we had 10,000 show up at one of the games, and I cannot believe that with the kind of numbers and muscles that ArizonaState can offer that we can't rock Wells Fargo Arena for our basketball games. I am resolute in the idea that we can be very successful in that endeavor.

 

'I made a very difficult decision in consultation with senior staff members. I listened to a lot of different people weighed in with decision and thoughts on the matter. At the end of the day, this decision is for the sake of this program and its future success in the most comprehensive of ways. When I say comprehensive, I am thinking of terms in not just on the court, like I just talked about a standard of making it into the NCAA tournament, but also in the breadth of the program that involves caring for those athletes that are on the team, both academically and emotionally. I think it's very important that you have someone in the leadership position that cares a great deal for the future of the young men that play basketball at ArizonaState, but I think that it also goes hand in hand with what the scoreboard reveals. We need to be competitive comprehensively on all fronts.

 

'I will commence a full-scale search nationally now, beginning as soon as five minutes ago. We will go as hard as we can go and as fast as we can go to land the person that I believe we can live this dream with for ArizonaState.'

 

On Rob Evans' response following the news:

'He indicated that with all the hubbub and discussion about this, everything that had been reported in the media recently, that he was not totally surprised, but he's a competitor and I think that it is safe to say that he was disappointed, understandably so.'

 

On when she reached the decision to make a change:

'I had said all along, and I believe this to be true, that I would evaluate everything according to how this season went. I looked at the team and I realized that we have a very young team; I'm cognizant of the recruits, and all of those things. It came down to really the entire year.

 

'I can't say that it came down to one particular game or criteria, where I said that we had to have it at this point in order to go the next step. It was looking at the entire season and looking at his entire eight-year body of work. I wanted to look at it from all perspectives. I am well aware of the youth and the talent on our current team and I wanted to get a

sense of where we could go and I had to get through the entire season to make that call.

 

'[This process] went on throughout the season. It was generally reported since the beginning of the season about Rob's status, and whether or not he had signed an extension, all of those things had been pretty generally reported. People were free to comment. Passionate Sun Devils made their opinions known one way or another. I'd like to think that I am a good listener to various constituencies and people who feel strongly about the basketball program. I am not quite sure what we would do without passionate people. That would be devastating. I looked at the degree of interest and the degree of people wanting to comment one way or another as an indicator of people that cared, one way or the other. We need that badly.'

 

On whether she has contacted candidates and what the timetable for a replacement is:

'I have not yet contacted anyone, but we will be on that as soon as I leave this press conference. I don't have a timetable, I'd like to move as expeditiously as possible, but when I say that, it doesn't mean that we are going to yield quality. I am very well aware that the tournament is seemingly underway and we have to be aware of the dynamics that it creates.'

 

On the importance of Division-I experience in a new hire:

'It's always prevalent in my mind to hire from a successful pedigree. It gives you a great sense of confidence when you know that you are bringing in someone with experience coaching in the NCAA basketball tournament, and maybe even at times going deep into the bracket. I think that it always gives you a sense of confidence.'

 

On whether she has spoken with the student-athletes on the team:

'I will after this. We will be pursuing talking to the team members soon. I am aware that spring break begins for us on Monday and actually created a deliberate gap to allow Coach Evans the opportunity personally to speak to his team. After that, the administrators and I will do our part to talk to them.'

On the expectation of student-athletes returning to the team next season:

'I cant speak to that until I've had a chance to talk to the players individually and get a sense of that. ArizonaState is a wonderful university and there is a great opportunity to make a difference in our basketball program. Of course I will tell you that I hope 100 percent of them come back and decide to represent us on the court next year. I was very impressed with their stalwartness during the year; I was very impressed with their coming back every game and every practice and working to get better. I was impressed with the kind of character they exhibited for the sake of themselves, their coach and their university. The hope is that they will come back and suit up again for the Sun Devils and lead us to good things.'

 

On financing the contract of a new coach:

'I'll cross that bridge as I come to it. All I can tell you is that we will see what the pool of candidates yields and I intend to be as aggressive as I can possibly be.'

 

On whether a list of candidates currently exists:

'Anyone would say that in this position, in your right mind, or even if you are coaching, you have to have some type of a contingency plan, should things work out the way they have. I do have a starting point, yes.

 

'What I was referring to was a contingency list, a short list and a long list. I don't have a single candidate in mind, but I would be naïve if I did not have any list at all.'

 

On how difficult this decision was:

'I think that I have a pulse and if I didn't this wouldn't be difficult, but I do. I recognize the caliber of person that I just met with this morning, and I believe that there is a reason that there is a plaque on the wall with his name on it. The person that presented that plaque and worked with us to create nice facilities and locker rooms did that because he felt strongly about this program and it's understandable. It speaks to what Rob and Carolyn Evans are about, in teaching life.'

 

On the status of the assistant coaches:

'We are certainly contractually obligated through the end of this academic year and we will of course honor all contract obligations. As is typical in this type of circumstances, they will begin a search themselves for jobs. I think that is considered normal behavior for them. I think it is too soon to comment [on whether one of them is a candidate for this job.] These men just found out themselves this morning. Anyone is welcome to throw their hat in the ring.'

 

 

On whether ASU will take a new approach to men's basketball with a new coach:

'We intend to approach all of this aggressively, with regard to solving any kinds of problems or hurdles that present themselves that prevent us from being extremely successful. Whether it is having to practice on campus during the graduation period or anything to that effect. I actually noted an interesting article where the author spoke to whether or not administratively ASU was `right there' for men's basketball, and we intend to be.'

 

On whether the administration will wait until the end of the tournament to begin the search:

'I think that the best answer to that is to allow me to see how the search progresses through the course of time. You have to know that you are going to succeed. That is a critical point and how long I am willing to wait depends on a certain degree to how the search bobs and weaves. I don't have a better answer than that. A lot of it depends on how things go.'

 

On how ASU intends to pay for the final year of Coach Evans' contract:

'We are just going to do it, we have no choice. We will be funding it as we are obligated to do. We are funding it through university resources.'

 

On what gives ASU an optimistic view about the program's future, given its history:

'It is about this hire and it is about ArizonaState. It is about the sense of what this place is and what its doing right now. I can't speak to the years that predate me but I can speak to a climate and what I'm reading about the dynamic of ArizonaState, since 2002, in terms of what's happening statistically with the vibrancy of this school and participation in Sun Devil Stadium like never before.

 

'I know that I am going to sound way too much like Kevin Costner right now, of course referring to the movie Field of Dreams, because I believe that if we provide [the fans] with a product, they will be here. Men's collegiate basketball is a kick and it is too much fun to stay away from. I believe that the Valley will support a great collegiate basketball program, I really believe that. I would be hard pressed to believe otherwise and I do believe that it is our obligation to give the Valley that kind of product.'

 

On whether ASU will use a search committee or an outside firm:

'Certainly I will make good use of internal senior staff that will partner with me through this. If I decide to employ a search firm, it will be to get things off and running very fast, for information gathering purposes. Search firms can be very thorough and quick, or very fleet footed, in gathering certain aspects of information, like a coach's track record or any NCAA issues or problems, information that you would like to know about people on your short list. That can be very beneficial and I am certainly thinking of doing that.'

 

 

On the advantage of hiring someone with experience working and recruiting on the West Coast:

'You have to think that it would be assistive. It is not my sole criteria, but it is certainly a contributing criterion when you think of the ability to have a successful impact in short order. If you've already got a bit of the familiarity on this side of the country, I think it helps you to hit the ground running and capitalize on relationships that a coach may already have at a fast pace.'

 

On what the administration can do to further the program's goals:

'Part of that will be in partnership with the coach. I like to work that way in a collaborative spirit. The relationship shouldn't be counterproductive, but rather one where we ought to be saying, `what does it take and what do we need to do and where do we need to go?' Whether it is the whole practice court concept or those kinds of things, [we'll do] whatever steps we need to take for this to be a destination university for men's basketball.'

 

On whether she is willing to wait until June to potentially hire a coach from an NBA team:

'That would be pretty long and it would be very challenging to wait that long. I would have to be fairly strong in my conviction that it is the best candidate, whoever it would be, and I would also have to have great assurances that the wait would be worthwhile.'

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