Hyman discusses basketball coaching search

For the first time since Dave Odom announced his retirement, Athletics Director Eric Hyman addressed the media and discussed how he intends to go about the search for a new coach. Read inside for a full report on USC's search for a new head basketball coach.

Hyman emphasized that he intends to do thorough research before hiring a new coach, and he has the advantage of Odom's early retirement to give him the time to do so. The first step in the coaching search is already complete: Hyman polled a number of former head coaches about what they look for in a job.

"I called several former head coaches, and I asked them, ‘When you are looking for a job, what is important for you?'" Hyman explained. "Every person you talk to is not the same, but you get some themes."

Hyman listed those themes as: academics including admissions standards, the ability to effectively recruit, program tradition and fan interest, the financial package available, and the university administration. With those themes in mind, Hyman noted that the Colonial Center is "a state of the art facility," and the proposed academic enrichment facility should answer any concerns about academics a prospective coach may have. He is convinced fan support is there, it just has to be tapped into. However, Hyman was more evasive about the potential salary for a coach. When asked if he was willing to pay a coach on par with elite programs like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and UCLA, Hyman said only, "We're in the marketplace."

"I want to be smart about what we are doing," he added, "but we are in the marketplace."

After covering what a prospective coach would see in Carolina, Hyman got down to the main business of describing what he wants to see in a prospective coach. He said he places an emphasis on work ethic, intelligence, and integrity, and wants "somebody who wants to be a Gamecock, and wants to be here for a long time." He also said he would prefer to hire a coach with experience as a head coach because, "There is a little bit more of a risk factor" in hiring someone with no head coaching experience.

"I wouldn't say no to [hiring someone without head coaching experience]," Hyman said, "but I probably am leaning in the direction of trying to hire a head coach somewhere, because that person will have a measurable track record that you can evaluate and judge."

Hyman will not be hiring an outside "headhunting" firm, but he is consulting others about the opening, although he added, "At the end of the day, it's my call." Shortly after Odom announced his retirement, Hyman met with the current players about what they want in a coach. He also appointed an athlete liaison on the team, whom Hyman declined to identify. The liaison is free to bring to Hyman any concerns that the players may have regarding the process.

"I think it is very important to sit down with the athletes," said Hyman. "I sat down and listened to what they had to say. From that, what I am going to try to do is get their feelings and try to develop a profile."

In addition to the current players, Hyman will also reach out to former players and coaches who have spent time in the Palmetto State. From speaking with those people, he hopes to formulate a clear idea of what it will take for Gamecock basketball to be successful.

"I will sit down and talk to some of the former players," said Hyman. "It is very important to me to get some of their input, to let me know what they think. In the same light, I will call and talk to some former coaches that have an affiliation with South Carolina or the University of South Carolina to find out what their thought process is. You take all that information and you begin to develop a profile of a candidate."

In terms of a timetable, there is none. There is only so much Hyman can do before the season ends, at which point the search will intensify. Even then, the search could last days or months.

"I'm going to do it as soon as possible, however long it takes to hire the right person," Hyman smiled. "There is not going to be a specific date. I want to make sure I make the right decision."

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