The second big-name basketball coach in two days visited Cambridge on Friday. Tommy Amaker, former Duke University player and University of Michigan coach, met with Harvard's players and the athletic administration to discuss the vacant Crimson head coaching position, a day after former St. John's University coach Mike Jarvis interviewed for the job.
Amaker, who declined to comment, met with members of the team at around 8 a.m. Friday in the Murr Center. Later, he met with Nichols Family Director of Athletics Bob Scalise and the rest of the committee created to find a new men's basketball coach to replace Frank Sullivan, whose 16-year tenure at the helm ended when he was let go on March 5. The search committee also consists of a non-basketball member of the athletic coaching staff and two senior athletic administrators, according to Director of Athletic Communications Chuck Sullivan.
Sullivan said that Amaker was scheduled for meetings in the Murr Center until around 4 p.m., at which time he was scheduled to cross the river for meetings with university administrators.
Players declined to comment on their meeting with Amaker or the ongoing search for a coach, stating that they have been forbidden to speak to the press by Scalise until the process has come to its completion.
Amaker was a point guard at Duke University under coach Mike Krzyzewski, playing on the team that lost in the NCAA championship game in 1986, the same season Amaker won the national Defensive Player of the Year award. He was an assistant coach under Kryzewski at Duke from 1988-97 before getting his first head coaching job at Seton Hall University. In four years in New Jersey he never failed to make the postseason, as the Pirates advanced to the National Invitational Tournament three times and reaching the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 2000.
Amaker moved to the University of Michigan in 2002, where he coached for six seasons before being fired on March 17. He failed to take the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament during his time in Ann Arbor, but did lead the squad to an NIT title in 2004.
Amaker carries a 177-138 career record, and would bring instant credibility to a Harvard program that has never won the Ivy League title and that has been to the NCAA tournament just once, in 1946.
Amaker, who is black, would also bring a measure of diversity to Harvard athletics. A recent Boston Globe article revealed that none of Harvard's 32 head coaches are black, and the Globe has reported that because of this fact, the institution is "scrambling" to hire a black basketball coach. Jarvis, who coached at Boston University, George Washington University, and St. John's University, is also black.
Amaker appears to be the less controversial of the two prominent candidates, as Jarvis carries the baggage of being the first Big East Conference coach to ever be fired in the midst of a season. He was let go six games into the 2003 season in the wake of the arrests of two players, and it was later disclosed that a violation of NCAA financial regulations occurred under his watch at St. John's.
Sullivan has said that the committee hopes to have a candidate chosen by the end of next week, with the official announcement to come sometime the following week.
-Staff writer Caleb W. Peiffer can be reached at email@example.com.