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.”Follow @NickVeronica