VIDEO: Watch Jim Baron’s emotional retirement press conference

By Nick Veronica

Canisius men’s basketball coach Jim Baron announced his retirement Friday afternoon. Joined by his brother, Ed, and sons Jimmy and Billy, Baron was emotional during his 30-minute goodbye to college basketball.

Notes from the interview:

— Baron reiterated that his health is fine and he’s retiring to spend more time with his family. “That’s what’s important to me at this time,” he said.

— Associate head coach Pat Clarke is now running the program as the interim head coach.

—  Athletic director Bill Maher said he hopes to conduct an “expedited search” for a new coach, but has no timeline for when he would like to have the new coach in place. He’s leaning toward not using a search firm.

— “I always value previous head coaching experience,” Maher told me later. “Last time, I felt that was critically important for our program at that point in time. … I’m not going to pin myself down and say I’m absolutely going to (hire someone with head coaching experience), nor did I last time.”

—  Maher on Pat Clarke as a candidate, and if his lack of head coaching experience hurts him: “We actually considered a number of candidates last time that didn’t have head coaching experience. Pat’s been here, he’s been instrumental in what we’ve done with the program. I’ve worked closely with him in a lot of the things we’ve done. If he’s interested – which he’s expressed that he is – I certainly will give him every consideration.”

— Maher was surprised when Baron told him Thursday that he wanted to retire. Maher said his thoughts were, ” ‘Are you sure about this, Jim? Have you thought about it?’ Because it wasn’t something we ever discussed, ‘Hey, I might be retiring.’ That wasn’t ever part of it.  … We talked about the fact that it’s a little bit later than is normally the process. But if you tell me we’re going to have a coaching search in March, that’s not a great time either.”

— I asked Maher what he thought about former UB coach Reggie Witherspoon: “I think Reggie’s a great guy. He’s continued to stay in coaching. I enjoyed working with him at UB (when Maher was an assistant AD). When we made the decision to not renew Tom [Parrotta], Jim Baron’s name was one of the first ones someone brought up, and I said, ‘We’ll see. It’ll be something we consider for sure.’ So Reggie, if there’s interest from Reggie, I’ll certainly talk to him about it and we’ll go from there.”

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