According to several reports, Providence's head coach, Ed Cooley, is a serious candidate for the vacancy of Michigan's head basketball coach.
Jon Rothstein, the college basketball player for CBS Sports reported as much, noting that Cooley would meet with Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel earlier this week.
Cooley was in Florida on Monday for the annual Big East meetings, according to Kevin McNamara of Diario de la Providencia, but it is possible that a telephone conversation took place.
This development came as no surprise to a long-time former athletic director who spoke for the first time with MLive about Cooley on Monday afternoon before the news got out.
"It's perfect for Michigan," the source said.
Michigan is using a search firm, Turnkey, to help classify potential candidates to replace John Beilein, who unexpectedly went on May 13 to the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. The school may have chosen Turnkey because its founder / president / CEO is a Michigan alumnus. Turnkey also has an excellent reputation, according to the source.
Gene DeFilippo, a managing director there, will play an important role in the search, the source said. DeFilippo was the athletic director of Boston College during Cooley's nine seasons as an assistant there. Before that, DeFilippo was the athletic director of Villanova. After working in these two schools, where the reputation of academics and out-of-court is valued, you know what kind of candidate would work well in Michigan.
Cooley is among them, the source strongly believes, and he believes that DeFilippo would agree. Cooley and DeFilippo were close during their days at Boston College. "I imagine that DeFilippo is seeing him as a great candidate."
Manuel will be the one to make the final decision on the hiring, but it is not surprising that Cooley has become a candidate.
Cooley, who turns 50 in September, spent a season each as an assistant at UMass-Dartmouth, Stonehill College (her alma mater) and the Al Skinner staff in Rhode Island.
The following season, in 1997, he followed Skinner to Boston College. Fairfield hired him to be his head coach in 2006.
In his five seasons there, Cooley went 92-69, winning the title of MAAC's regular season in his last season in 2010-11.
That earned him work in Providence, where he grew up. He took over a program that had not been in the NCAA Tournament in eight years and published only two winning seasons in that span. The friars arrived at the Big Dance in the third year of Cooley, beginning a series of five trips in a row, a streak that ended last season. Cooley has only 1-5 in the NCAA tournament.
Multiple people from the university and the ranks of the NBA praised Cooley with MLive in the NBA draft in Chicago last week. One, spontaneously, said he would be a great candidate for Michigan.
Cooley's academic experiences should be fine. Fairfield and Providence occupy the first and second place, respectively, in the News from the United States and World Report ranking of the best regional universities, those that offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master's programs, but few doctoral programs, in the north.
"We have had excellent academics," Manuel said in his only public comments on the search. "We've had young men with character who have done things well, so I want that." He also expressed his preference for a proven head coach.
It is unlikely that Manuel will opt for a "quick fix" candidate, someone who is comfortable and who enters a large number of transfers to compensate for the talent lost in the NBA this year and who is probably hiring as a result of the coach change . He is more inclined to look for someone who can take advantage of Beilein's success, even if it takes a year or two to get there.
Cooley, given his track record as head coach, could be the candidate who seems most likely to do so.
Manuel knows him well from his time together in the Great East, in Manuel's previous job as an athletic director in Connecticut.
Cooley and his wife are from the Providence area. When he got the job with the friars, it was not just a step on the training scale. It was a return home. In his introductory press conference, he said it would be a "marriage made in heaven for a long, long time."
After eight years there, could Cooley be willing to move on?
"By going from the Big East to Michigan, you're doing a professional career on your own, no doubt," said the former athletic director.
Chris Holtmann, coach of the State of Ohio, made the leap from the Big East to the Big Ten when he left Butler two seasons ago.
Cooley's salary is supposed to eclipse $ 3 million next season, in a contract that lasts until 2026. It's unclear what his purchase is, but the Diario de la Providencia Reports that there is one. Beilein received $ 3.8 million last season.
Providence does not have a soccer program, although men's ice hockey is a big problem. The friars came to the Cuatro Congelados this year and won the national championship in 2015. But it does not compare to the attention that Michigan soccer and its coach Jim Harbaugh receive.
"The place where he is in the hierarchical order in Michigan is a little different from him in the hierarchical order in Providence, that's for sure," said a source who knows Cooley enough to talk about his personality. "I'm not sure he's not happy he's not the guy with the goal on his back every minute."
In Michigan, Cooley could potentially get the best of both worlds: football is king, but the Crisler Center sold out in almost every game last season.
No decision has been made regarding Cooley. Juwan Howard still has an interview scheduled for Tuesday and, according to Jeff Goodman, Michigan Stadium assistant Luke Yaklich interviewed on Friday – But the former athletic director expects Michigan to give Cooley a strong consideration.
"It would be difficult to do better in terms of candidates," he said.