Canisius interviews three coaching candidates

Canisius’ search for a men’s basketball coach intensified this week, with three candidates visiting campus in the past five days.

Jim Baron, former University of Rhode Island coach, was the first to visit. He interviewed and toured athletic facilities Sunday and Monday and also met with players, as did all candidates.

Jayson Gee was next to visit campus, coming through on Tuesday. He is currently an associate head coach at Cleveland State.

The third candidate to visit campus, The Griffin has learned, is David Duda, an assistant coach from Saint Joseph’s University who was on campus Thursday.

Duda has been with St. Joe’s since 2006 and was previously the head coach at Division III Widener University.

This Sunday will mark four weeks since Tom Parrotta was let go after a 5-25 season. Canisius athletic director Bill Maher originally put a timeline of 4-6 weeks on his coaching search, and a decision could come as soon as this week, likely after the national championship game.

Canisius is also rumored to be interested in Creighton assistant coach Steve Merfeld, but he has not visited campus as of Thursday night, according to a source.

Baron, 58, was reported to have been offered a contract last week, but that report was inaccurate, the school said. He has ties to the Western New York area, serving as St. Bonaventure’s head coach from 1992-01. He spent the next 11 seasons at Rhode Island before being fired the same day as Parrotta. Baron has been to the NCAA Tournament twice, but not since the 1999-00 season.

Gee (pronounced like the letter G) is 45 and is also a former coach at Bonaventure. He joined the Bonnies staff in 2003 after spending six years as head coach at his alma mater, Division II Charlestown. He has been at Cleveland State for the last six years.

Canisius was 64-121 over the last six seasons under Parrotta and hasn’t finished above .500 since the 2000-01 season. The school’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 1996, when Canisius lost to Utah, 72-43, in the first round.

Canisius refutes report Jim Baron has been offered coaching job

Though multiple sources reported this morning that Jim Baron has been offered the head coaching position of Canisius’ men’s basketball team, the school says it absolutely has not made anyone an offer at this point.

Baron 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.

Canisius athletic director Bill Maher was previously asked if he was looking into hiring Baron, to which he replied, “If that’s a possibility, we would absolutely consider it.”

Baron turned 58 on Tuesday and has taken teams to the NCAA Tournament twice – St. Francis in 1991 and St. Bonaventure in 2000 – but never with Atlantic 10 member Rhode Island, which was a key factor in his firing.

Baron has a career record of 390-367 (.515) and was 184-165 at URI (83-93 in conference) and took the team to the NIT five times.

He would replace Tom Parrotta, who complied a 64-121 record in six years at Canisius, which was his first head-coaching job.

Canisius College is rumored to be several million dollars in the red, and Baron likely wouldn’t come cheap. A report from December about Baron’s contract at URI said his base salary was nearly $350,000, and could almost double based on incentives. That base salary alone would make him the highest-paid employee at Canisius, according to the most recent tax documents available.

The Buffalo News reported that Canisius is still entertaining other potential coaches while it waits to hear from Baron. Jayson Gee (assistant at Cleveland State), Anthony Evans (head coach at Norfolk St.) and Bob Walsh (head coach at Rhode Island College, different from Rhode Island University) were named specifically in the report.

Canisius was formerly rumored to be after Bobby Hurley, but he decided to stay on as an assistant under his brother Dan, who replaced Baron at URI this week.