Press conference showcases process behind search for new men’s basketball coach
UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero helped introduced new UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin on Wednesday at a press conference in Pauley Pavilion. Guerrero, along with Golden State Warriors General Manager Bob Myers, helped lead the search to fill the position. (Daily Bruin file photo)
By Hanson Wang
April 11, 2019 2:26 a.m.
If UCLA’s 99-day head coach search was an increasingly strenuous workout, then Wednesday’s introductory press conference was a refreshing shower.
How long it takes until the aches and pains set in is still to be determined, but the Bruins’ lengthy search – which included thorough background checks and at least three other reported candidates – is over.
On Wednesday, UCLA Athletics Director Dan Guerrero, UCLA alum and Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers and new men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin each provided insight into UCLA Athletics’ hunt to replace former coach Steve Alford, who was fired New Year’s Eve.
“A lot has been made about the search itself, no question we had a lot of runway, a lot of opportunity to really spend some time doing a thorough search and that’s in fact what we did,” Guerrero said. “I can say once again beyond a shadow of a doubt that we explored all opportunities, all avenues and we engaged with several strong candidates.”
Some of the candidates who the Bruins courted reportedly included Kentucky coach John Calipari, TCU coach Jamie Dixon and Tennessee coach Rick Barnes. UCLA reportedly offered them contracts, but each spurned negotiations to stay in their current positions.
“It’s not uncommon when you do a search for this to have multiple conversations going on at the same time with prospective candidates,” Guerrero said. “You can do a dance with a lot of people, but until you get two individuals to sign on a dotted line, that’s when you hit the finish line and that’s what we did.”
According to Myers, who was a member of the search committee along with Associate Athletic Director Josh Rebholz and Associate Athletic Director Chris Carlson, UCLA cast a wide net for potential candidates, which mostly included currently employed coaches.
“It was more of ‘Let’s plant seeds in various places and see what flourishes,’ and it happened to be (Cronin),” Myers said. “But I can tell you with him, he had great clarity that this was the job that he wanted. He never wavered from that. And that, I think, was something that resonated with the whole committee.”
One of the qualities UCLA was looking for in its new coach was a commitment to the school, the brand and the city of Los Angeles, Guerrero said.
While several national media members such as Yahoo’s Pete Thamel, CBS’ Gary Parrish and USA Today’s Dan Wolken pointed out that UCLA’s search process was flawed and that the coaching position was not an elite opening, the school’s brand still provoked interest.
“When we’re asked to be on the committee, I’d say you’re calling people, offering them a Porsche. No one’s going to hang up the phone on you,” Myers said. “You’re offering an unbelievable brand. But at the same time, that’s not enough.”
On the other hand, there were some coaches who didn’t pass UCLA’s vetting process, while others rose up UCLA’s lists due to positive feedback during the background checks.
Through it all, Cronin survived from the initial pool of candidates to the end.
“You have to go through the process,” Cronin said. “Not to appease people, but to appease Chancellor (Gene) Block and do right by your constituents. To explore every possible option. So I was comfortable with that. That’s my long answer. I did not get caught up in that. We were in constant communication and I was dealt with nothing but honesty the entire time.”
As the last one standing, now it’s time for Cronin to get to work.