Canisius signs Baron to five-year deal

Jim Baron has signed a five-year contract to coach the Canisius men’s basketball team, the school officially announced in a release.

Baron, 58, was fired after 11 seasons at the University of Rhode Island following a 7-24 record this year. He has Western New York ties, serving as the head coach at St. Bonaventure from 1992-01.

“In naming Jim to this position, we have hired a man who has a proven track record of building successful basketball programs and developing young men,” athletic director Bill Maher said in the statement. “He is excited to return to Western New York to lead the Canisius College basketball program.

“Jim comes to us as a highly respected coach, having led three different institutions to postseason success. Our goal is to win the MAAC Championship, and I look forward to working with Jim to accomplish this goal at Canisius College.”

Baron replaces Tom Parrotta, who was fired after his sixth season as coach. Canisius was 64-121 under his Parrotta and never finished higher than sixth in the conference. A press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday.

Baron has been to the NCAA Tournament twice, with St. Francis in 1991 and St. Bonaventure in 2000. He never made it to the Big Dance with URI, but took the Rams to the NIT five times.

Only two other coaches had formal interviews for the job: Cleveland State’s Jayson Gee and St. Joe’s Dave Duda. Baron was the first to interview, visiting campus last Sunday and Monday. Gee was second, on Tuesday, and Duda visited last, coming this past Thursday.

All three candidates toured athletic facilities, had a meeting with the players, met with school president John Hurley and went out to dinner.

The Buffalo News reported a week and a half ago that Baron had been offered a contract, which the school denied. CBS reported Sunday night that Baron had decided to accept the job, which the school neither confirmed nor denied.

Baron has a career record of 390-367 (.515) and was 184-165 at URI (83-93 in conference).

Baron’s sons, Jimmy and Billy, both played for him at URI. Jimmy graduated in 2009 and Billy, a 6-2 guard, will be a junior next season. He averaged 32.3 minutes per game last year and scored 13 points per game in the Atlantic 10.