UMass AD Bamford lays out plans for coach searches

  • UMass Athletic Director Ryan Bamford, left, talks to Tom McElroy, who is the senior associate director of athletics for external relations, during a UMass basketball practice Aug. 11 at the Mullins Center. JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 3/8/2016 3:53:46 PM

AMHERST — A day after firing two coaches, UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford met with the media via teleconference to lay out his plans for the coaching searches and what he hopes for the women’s basketball and hockey programs going forward.

Some of his key points:

■ Without prompting, Bamford went out of his way to assure people that money being used to buy out hockey coach John Micheletto ($259,715) and women’s basketball coach Sharon Dawley ($226,415) was coming neither from taxpayer money or university assistance. He said UMass’ revenue from the Atlantic 10, Mid-American Conference and Hockey East came about $500,000 more than expected, which covered the $486,130 to pay out the two head coaches.

The women’s assistant coaches are all being retained at least temporarily. If they’re let go, they’ll each be paid one month’s salary for each year they worked at UMass, in accordance with university policy.

Hockey assistants Joey Gasparini and Ryan Miller are under contract for next season and are owed $112,000 and $99,000 respectively. But if either is hired for a new position, the school would only owe them the difference in salary between their new job and what they made at UMass.

“My first charge of the next head coach is to sit with each assistant coach and support personnel to give them the opportunity to at least interview,” Bamford said. “We’ll allow our next head coach to determine how he or she wants to build the staff moving forward. Some of the coaches may be retained. Some others may not.”

■ There will be no search firm used this time. UMass used outside agencies to help aid the hiring process that led to football coach Mark Whipple and Bamford being selected.

There also won’t be traditional search committees either.

Bamford will lead the hockey search and associate athletic director Darrice Griffin, a former women’s basketball player at Texas Tech, will captain the basketball search. Both will have people inside and outside UMass who will help with the process, but Bamford didn’t want to name them in hopes of keeping the process private.

“We do have an idea of who we want the candidates to speak with,” he said.

■ This might be Bamford’s first coaching search as an athletic director, but he answered an inquiry about the timetable for making hires like a seasoned veteran.

“We hope to move quickly, but most importantly, we want to hire the best candidate,” he said.

■ With both teams struggling since January, Bamford said he had identified coaches he was interested in for both jobs. Bamford declined to be more specific.

■ He thought the hockey program had a lot of pieces in place to be nationally competitive quickly.

“I don’t think we’re that far away. ... We’re losing two contributors and we may have some other guys that decide to turn pro, we’ll see. But I’m encouraged by some of the talent we have in the program. I don’t think the cupboard is bare for the next head coach,” he said. “We need to continue to bring in good recruiting classes and develop the kids that are in the program now to a level where we can compete. We’ve got the resources and the infrastructure with the Mullins Center, the practice rink, our locker room, our offices. We have the ability to build a winning program here that can compete nationally. If we can compete in the upper half or our league we’re going to have a chance to compete nationally. I don’t think we’re that far off.”

“Hockey is important for us. Hockey in this state is an important sport. There’s no reason the flagship university for this state can’t be successful in hockey,” he added. “I believe in that. I love college hockey. We’re going to do everything with this hire and there after to do everything we can to have success. ... We want to build something that really gains traction and is good year in and year out.”

■ Since firing Joanie O’Brien in 2002, UMass has had one winning season in women’s basketball. Bamford thinks there’s no reason the Minutewomen can’t be better.

“We haven’t been able to turn the corner in our own league. We felt like with the resources we’ve provided for women’s basketball, which are in the top three to four programs in our league, we hadn’t met expectations. I think we can,” he said. “I think that’s a sport where we have the infrastructure to compete with the teams in our own league and I would tell you I think we can compete nationally.”

■ Asked whether Derek Kellogg was at risk of being a third casualty this week, Bamford supported his men’s basketball coach.

“We’re moving forward with Derek. Derek is our head coach. He’s had a season we’re going to learn a lot from. Derek and I have talked. Derek has done some good work here. While this season hasn’t met everybody’s expectations, we’re bringing in a good recruiting class moving forward,” Bamford said. “Derek and his staff have proven we can recruit high-level talent to this campus. Now we have to develop them. We have aspirations in men’s basketball to be nationally competitive as well. I think Derek is the right person to do that for us.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at

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