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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Props for Powell after Christian Selection

I first spoke with Jamion Christian in May 2010, days after he lost out on the Mount men’s basketball head coaching job to Robert Burke.

I had sent Jamion a Facebook message asking if we could talk on the phone. He said yes even though we hadn't met. All I wanted to ask was whether he was interested in being one of Burke’s assistants, but he told me more.

"I wouldn’t go for the first assistant job, no disrespect to coach Burke, but my goal is to be a head coach at Mount St. Mary’s one day or be a head coach at some level at some place," Jamion told me nearly two years ago.

At the time he was William & Mary’s second assistant. He added back then: “I think we’ve got something truly special going on here that I’d really only leave to be a head coach somewhere.”

(He left William & Mary to be a VCU assistant under Shaka Smart that offseason, so I guess he was only half-lying.)

Fortunately for the Mount, that day came years sooner than expected. And while Jamion deserves congratulations, I’m also happy to credit one of my biggest editorial targets: President Thomas H. Powell.

It’s no secret I didn’t like the Burke hire. I thought Brion Dunlap or Jamion should have been selected. The Mount not only needs a good coach, but someone who understands the campus. The students, administrators, local residents – the combination of them is unlike anywhere else. We do things “differently.” Mostly with pride, but sometimes with thinly-veiled shame.

So it’s important, not only to passionate alums, but for the good of the university, that we make the most of our limited resources. In 2010, Powell miserably failed to do that, and Burke shamed us on and off the court because of it.

This time, though, was different. We were scared by rumors that Burke assistant Matt Henry, who finished the season as interim head coach, was a shoe-in for the job. Not scared because of Henry himself, but because no one else was going to be considered for the school’s biggest coaching job. But the more days that passed, the less frequent the search updates.

Then, one glorious Friday night in March, word leaked that Jamion had gotten the job. This was great not only because the class of 2004 graduate meets the aforementioned requirements to coach at the Mount, but also because of how he was chosen.

Athletics director Lynne Robinson had a say, as did other prominent, athletic-minded people who care about the Mount. Powell proactively sought their opinion, to the point that they were surprised. Lynne was even included in the initial press release and led the press conference this time.

So I salute you, Dr. Powell, for a job well done. As much as I respect your efforts on the west side of campus, I don’t think you have much to add in the east, and that’s not meant as an insult. There are, however, some great people working in the ARCC, and others who have moved on, but know Knott Arena far better than you. (Again, not an insult.) I thank you for being part of the well-informed group that chose Jamion. I look forward to returning to Jim Phelan Court next season to watch the Mountaineers in action.

By the way, I already donated $100 to the annual fund this year, and that was before you hired Jamion. Just wait until 2013. For the money and the basketball.

Monday, March 5, 2012

As Mount Falls, Colonials Enjoy Continued Success

In 2008, Mount St. Mary's men's basketball won the Northeast Conference championship. Best three weeks of my life.

The next year, we lost the championship to Robert Morris on a BS buzzer-beater. The year after that – my final as head manager – the Colonials beat us in the semifinals en route to their second consecutive title.

That offseason, Mount head coach Milan Brown was hired by Holy Cross while Mike Rice left Robert Morris for Rutgers. Robert Morris replaced Rice with his assistant, Andrew Toole. Brown was replaced by outsider Robert Burke, whose qualities included his "devotion to Catholicism." (I wasn't happy, but I kept an open mind.) Brown's first assistant, Brion Dunlap (yes, my friend), was shunned, and joined his boss in Worcester.

Two years later, Toole's troops will play their fourth consecutive title game Wednesday (this with their best player suspended the entire season). Meanwhile, in Emmitsburg, Burke was placed on administrative leave Feb. 15, and there hasn't been an update since. (UPDATE: Burke's resignation was announced shortly after this post went live.) The seventh-seeded Mount lost a first-round road game by 19 in last year's NEC tournament and didn't even qualify this season.

Funny how Robert Morris, the program that opted for an in-house hire, had a smoother transition, and maintained its success.

Of course, Mount president Thomas H. Powell's quotations were all over the press releases announcing Burke's hire in May 2010, but athletic director Lynne Robinson wasn't even quoted. (Even the video for the press conference has been removed.) Then, when Burke was abruptly placed on leave, only Robinson was quoted.

If Burke doesn't return, maybe Robinson should ever-so-graciously be allowed to lead the hiring process this time. You know, since it's her job.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Powell's relative seeking hire

This article originally appeared on the now-defunct It has been republished here for reference purposes.

January 23, 2008

A new job opening in the admissions office called "Metro New York Regional Coordinator" may be filled by President Thomas Powell’s sister-in-law, Theresa Mahoney. The job, however, is news to human resources.

Director of Human Resources Barbara Miller and her secretary say they are unaware of any such job opening, and do not have it posted on the Mount's Web site, nor is it posted in the Department of Human Resources, the two places where they said all of their jobs are listed. The admissions department did not have any jobs listed as of 3 a.m. this morning.

Powell, however, said that this is a mistake and that the job should be posted. "I'm surprised," Powell said, "because the position is a new position that we're developing to better recruit students in the 22 Catholic high schools that are on Long Island and both Brooklyn and Queens and Nassau and Suffolk counties."

Personnel from the admissions office interviewed Mahoney at 1:30 p.m. and she was seen taking a tour of the campus around 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.

"I don't know if I'm getting it [the job], but I think so," Mahoney said. "I'm going to be like a permanent presence on Long Island so that I'll be the go-to person between the alumni and the Mount. I can't wait to spread the word to Long Island."

According to Powell, though, the process is far from over.

"She has not been offered a job. Nobody gets offered a job at Mount St. Mary's until they get a letter from the president offering a job. There's only one person who's allowed to offer people jobs and that's me," Powell said in a phone interview.

According to the Mount St. Mary's Governing Documents that can be found at, "all positions will be posted for a minimum of three days." The documents later state that positions are not required to be posted for "temporary assignments, sub-contracted assignments, jobs being filled from within the same department, and positions reporting directly to the President of the University."

This position, however, is to be a full-time position and "the Regional Coordinator reports jointly to the Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management and the Director of Alumni Relations," not Powell, according to a preliminary job description obtained from the admissions office.

Despite the claims that Mahoney has not been offered a position, she already has an e-mail account, which Powell said is also news to him.

According to Sue Lindsay of Informational Services who is in charge of creating e-mail accounts for individuals on campus, no applicant for a full-time position is granted an account until they are officially hired. Not even during the interview process, the state that Powell said Mahoney is undergoing, would that person be given an e-mail. She said the date which accounts were created is confidential.

"I'm going to get right on it and check that out," Powell said of her e-mail account. "I'll find out how somebody is jumping the gun."

Powell added that the position had been cut in the early 1990s due to budget constraints.

Whoever does fill the position will work primarily out of the Long Island area and receive a salary in the low $30,000 range, according to Powell.

He said that he did recommend Mahoney for the position because of her professionalism and experience with parents among other things that he felt made her a strong candidate.

When asked when she heard about the position, Mahoney said, "a couple of months ago. I just had my interview today and I got to meet Dean [of Admissions and Financial Aid Stephen] Neitz and [Director of Alumni Relations] Ms. [Maureen] Plant."

When asked about how she heard about the job Mahoney cited relatives that work at the Mount.

"They suggested that since I do live on Long Island that they recommended me for the job so I came for an interview," Mahoney said.

Mahoney confirmed that Powell was the relative who spoke with her and that he had told her about it "recently," not a couple months ago. At that point Mahoney declined to answer any further questions and continued her tour of the campus.

According to sources within the admissions office, the number of applicants from Long Island is expected to increase for the third consecutive year under the current recruiter that covers that region.

Powell confirmed that other than Mahoney being his relative, she has no other ties to Mount St. Mary's. She graduated from the New York Institute of Technology in 1983 with a major in fine arts and a minor in education.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

NCAA Tournament: Last Four in? Keep them Out

In what has become an annual event in Blacksburg, Va., Virginia Tech is sweating the final hours of Selection Sunday.

For the last three seasons, the Hokies were sent to the National Invitational Tournament, presumably as one of the final teams to miss the NCAA Tournament at large cutline.

This season, though, with a stronger non-conference schedule – Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Penn State – and a late-season win against then-No. 1 Duke, head coach Seth Greenberg’s team may return to the sport’s biggest stage for the first time since 2007, when it beat Illinois before losing to Southern Illinois.

But none of this season’s accomplishments would have been cause for optimism if not for an offseason gift from the NCAA. There will be 68 teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament field, three more than the previous 10 seasons, and four more than the from 1985-2000. And to think, the NCAA and a number of “Big Six” conference coaches prefer the field be expanded to 96.

Does America really want to see 28 more teams, whose chances for a national title fall between slim and none, try to win seven games in three weeks? I would think college basketball fans want that as much as NFL fans want an 18-game regular season schedule. (Although any schedule would be nice at this point.)

The mainstream pioneer bracketologist, ESPN’S Joe Lunardi, has Virginia Tech as the second-to-last team in the field as of late Sunday morning, one slot ahead of USC. St. Mary’s and Clemson are the top two of the “Last Four In.” Jerry Palm’s of CBS’s “Last four in” are, in order, Virginia Tech, VCU, Clemson and St. Mary’s. Even more telling, though, may be the two prognosticators’ “First Four Out.”

For Lunardi: Alabama, Georgia, Boston College, UAB.

For Palm: Boston College, UAB, Colorado, Harvard.

By RPI, Alabama’s top non-conference win came against Lipscomb. (That’s in Tennessee, in case you’re wondering.) The Crimson Tide lost to Big Ten and Big East bottom-feeders, respectively, Iowa (11–20) and Providence (15–17).

How can we expect Alabama to repeatedly beat the top teams in those conferences, all of which will be somewhere in the NCAA Tournament field?

Boston College, meanwhile, lost to Yale and Rhode Island, and failed to beat either of the top two teams in its own conference, Duke and North Carolina. Not to mention a 70–47 ACC Tournament loss to Clemson, another borderline entry.

The other “Last Four Out” nominations have similar résumés.

Forget that these teams would be even further excluded if it were not for the additional three slots in this year’s field, and consider who some of the next 28 teams could be.

In the interest of simplicity, I’ll use the No. 93–96 teams in the latest RPI rankings. (Understanding that some of the automatic bid teams, who all deserve a spot in the field, are ranked lower than 96, and would therefore "bump" these teams.)

St. Peter’s (93) is already in with for winning the MAAC Tournament, so we’ll use No. 92 Wisconsin-Milwaukee instead. Followed by Baylor (94), Vermont (95) and Maryland (96).

As a one-time diehard Maryland fan and someone who still follows the team as closely as my free time allows, let me be the first to dismiss the validity of considering them in any tournament to decide the sport’s national champion.

If the Terrapins were going to stake any sniff of a claim for inclusion into this year’s field, they would have needed to make more than 15 of their 28 free throws (0–for–6 in the first half) before Duke pulled away late in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.

Vermont lost by a combined 44 points to BYU and Connecticut – three and two seeds, respectively, via Lunardi – with no victories against any projected NCAA Tournament teams, including 0–2 against conference counterpart Boston University, the America East champion.

Baylor’s best non-conference win by RPI came against – Guess who? – Lipscomb. (They’re the Bisons, in case you're wondering.)

If you need reasons to exclude Wisconsin-Milwaukee, look no further than some of the Panthers’ losses: Western Michigan, DePaul, Wright State, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Loyola (Ill.), Buffalo and Florida Atlantic.

Would the NCAA Tournament be improved with 28 more teams? Is it better off with the three spots that were added? Probably not.

Who cares, then, whether St. Mary’s is selected instead of Clemson, or Virginia Tech instead of Virginia Commonwealth? Certainly not me. But I can think of someone who does.

“You guys are the experts,” Greenberg said to the ESPN College Gameday crew via telephone Sunday morning. “Are we in?”

Monday, January 3, 2011

BREAKING: Lindsey Munday screws the Mount, (Can't blame her); Hire Catanese

It appears that the Mount women's lacrosse team will have its third coach in less than a year. Lindsey Munday, the former Northwestern first assistant who was certainly the biggest resume hire in school history (I don't care how young or inexperienced she is, she was a part of FIVE national championships), is going to USC, according to the LA Times.

I'll say this, Los Angeles sounds a lot sweeter than Emmitsburg, but how can you leave a program before you ever coach a season there? What will she tell the players she's spent the last four months with? Now there is the potential of a lost recruiting class and a scramble to find what will likely lead to a lame duck coach.

Even worse, every coach in the athletic department who was pissed that Munday was receiving a ton of money (compared to them when they started) will now be wondering if it was worth it. I met one of the recruits signed by Sonia LaMonica before she ditched the Mount for Towson (where she was an assistant before, plus she didn't leave until the offseason) and they were ecstatic to have the chance to play for Munday.

I'm not sure what Trojan Land could offer a woman's lacrosse coach, but I'm sure it's much more attractive than what the Mount signed on to pay.

"It is an incredibly special opportunity to begin a new program and I cannot wait to recruit student-athletes who are passionate about lacrosse and about joining this amazing time in USC women's lacrosse history," Munday said in a statement that was quoted on the LA Times' blog, The Fabulous Forum.

There is no indication on the Mount's site that Munday has left, and she is still listed as the head coach. Expect any record of her to be gone within days, if not hours, as the Mount did with Milan Brown and company.

If I were in Munday's shoes, would I do the same thing? Without hearing the financials, it's not – OK I'll stop posturing. You're damn right I would leave the Mount for USC. This is a business, not daycare.

The only peculiar part of the move is that it comes during winter break, meaning by the time she packs her belongings and moves out of town, she'll never have to face the players she barely got to know. Can we please schedule USC in 2013 – the first year it will have a varsity team? (That's right; she won't even coach a meaningful game for more than two years.)

My biased but logical recommendation is to hire my good friend Katelyn Catanese, who was one of the best players in Northeast Conference history, and coached St. John's at Prospect Hall last spring. She led the girls to an undefeated season and an IAAM "C" Conference championship. Better yet, she's finishing graduate school at the Mount and could probably use a full-time job.


UPDATE: How could I forget this? (H/T to you know who.) Kind of puts a damper on the national championship hopes of our university president. This is what Powell said in August when Munday was hired:

"We're excited to welcome Coach Lindsey Munday to the Mount," said President Dr. Thomas Powell.  "She brings a national presence along with great talent and experience and exemplifies the formation of character we try and instill in our athletes. I am confident this dynamic coach will take us to the next level and bring home a national championship."

As the next coaching search begins, hope springs eternal yet again!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weekend from Hell II: Why am I tortured?

It began and ended with coaches fighting for their jobs, these two days from hell. Never has a weekend held so much promise that four of my teams would all be playing significant matchups in a 30-hour period.

Rich Rodriguez led an underprepared Michigan football team to the Gator Bowl, potentially with his job on the line. Although athletic director Dave Brandon may have decided Rodriguez' fate after a resounding loss to Ohio State, if not sooner, it would not have hurt for the Wolverines to beat nationally-ranked Mississippi State to end the season.

Alas, an incompetent, if not apathetic defense allowed more points (52) than the school's basketball team has done on three occasions this year. Here's to hoping the Jim Harbaugh wants to coach at his alma mater.

With the Michigan game scheduled for 1:30 p.m., I was elated that the Winter Classic was delayed until 8 p.m. due to rain. This meant no choosing between my favorite college football team and my favorite hockey team – the Pittsburgh Penguins.

As it turns out, I would have much rather they played simultaneously. Watching Michigan get trounced before the Penguins failed to score more than once on what seemed like 60 shots on goal (actually 33) was like have my wisdom teeth removed then going back a couple hours later for a root canal. Couldn't they just get it over with?

No reason to worry, though, as the Mount's men's basketball team played a marquee matchup at Virginia Tech and the Philadelphia Eagles hosted their bitter rival, the Dallas Cowboys, in a season finale – both on Sunday.

It was only two years ago that I watched as the Mount squandered a six-point lead with two minutes remaining in Blacksburg. Surely this season we could come just as close. But the more I checked the score, the more I believed that there must be a malfunction with my iPhone application.

Halftime score: Virginia Tech 50, Mount St. Mary's 11.

The Mount had four players not make a single shot from the floor on four or more attempts. As a team, the Mountaineers shot 17 percent while the Hokies made a smooth 69.2 percent of theirs. It's not the way I envisioned Jean Cajou making his season debut. And it's certainly not a team I would have recognized had I been watching.

I'll leave it at that, though I will point out that there are still 16 Northeast Conference games remaining, and the Mount is 1–1, a game out of first. There's no time to waste, though, as St. Francis (Pa.), who beat the Mount once last year, visits Thursday, before Robert Morris goes to Emmitsburg on Saturday. Can you say defining games?

My final hope, then, laid in the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. Although Jason Garrett had been unofficially named Cowboys head coach before the game by everyone but the organization, he certainly wanted to beat the Eagles. And Kevin Kolb certainly wanted to prove that he could win, too, even with a slew of second string skill players around him.

But just like Mike Vick the week before, a sack-fumble for a touchdown by the defense tied the game at 7, and sparked an upset. Not as key, though, as the Eagles failure to execute in the red zone, or stop Dallas from staging a late-game touchdown drive to go ahead 14–13, even with the refs botching the spot on a Jason Witten reception that should have been ruled a first down.

So Michigan could very possibly begin a search for a new coach within 24 hours, the Penguins are suddenly not so hot after winning 12 in a row, the Mount has zero momentum going into conference play, and likewise for the Eagles heading into the playoffs.

This Saturday, the Mount, again, hosts Robert Morris. The same day, if not Sunday, the Eagles host the Packers. And wouldn't you know, Michigan's season is over and the Penguins don't play either day. So already it can only hurt half as much as it does right now.