Stansbury talks about decision to stay; coaching search continues

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CLEMSON - Today’s news that Mississippi St.’s Rick Stansbury has decided to remain with the Bulldogs almost leaves the search for a new head basketball coach back at square one as Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips and Senior Associate AD for External Affairs Bill D’Andrea either must take another look at previously-interviewed candidates or keep scouring the country for someone new.

According to and The Sporting News, Stansbury emerged as perhaps the leading candidate to take over the position vacated by Oliver Purnell, who surprised everyone when left Clemson to take over the head coaching job at DePaul early last week.

However, several media outlets have now reported that Stansbury has elected to stay at Miss. St., which isn’t surprising considering that the situation for both parties may be seen as a lateral move. He joins two other coaches, Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel and Baylor coach Scott Drew, to become one of three coaches that have turned down overtures from Clemson about the position.

Stansbury reportedly makes $1.2 million annually from Mississippi State, while Purnell made $1.35 million in annual salary, plus an additional $250,000 in annual deferred money. He has been at Miss. St. for 20 years, including 12 as the head coach, where he compiled a 255-136 record. In that span, the Bulldogs have made six NCAA Tournament appearances, but have never advanced past the second round.

Stansbury said on Tuesday that there was no way he could walk away from Miss. St.

“First off, at the end of the day there was no question in the end what I felt,” Stansbury said. “It’s nice maybe to have been wanted; it’s nice to have heard some people talk about some things. But at the end the day there was no way I could walk away from Mississippi State and what we’re established here over 12 years.

“Sometimes it takes something like to make you realize how special it is. It wasn’t about money; it wasn’t about money at Mississippi State. I’m coming back not expecting no raise. I’m not going to get in details about Clemson’s situation; they were very good through the process. Their AD was terrific.”

Stansbury said that he with met with Clemson officials north of Atlanta, and that the entire process happened quickly.

“These are not like the processes in hiring for regular jobs,” Stansbury said. “They start pretty quickly. I think the first conversation from their AD to Greg happened Thursday evening. From that point on it was pretty quick; Meo [his wife] and I visited with them on Saturday afternoon. We got back Saturday night and wrestled with some things since then.”

Stansbury then went on to say that his decision should in no way disparage Clemson.

“I’m not going to make Clemson look bad in any way,” he said. “Those guys were really good to us. I’ll just tell you the negotiations of our contract, this morning I know around 11:30…I knew as soon as I woke up this morning I couldn’t see ourselves getting on a plane heading to Clemson this afternoon. I know they’ll find a good candidate.”

To this point, Phillips and D’Andrea have conducted six interviews - former Boston College coach Al Skinner, Wright State’s Brad Brownell, Jacksonville’s Cliff Warren, Old Dominion’s Blaine Taylor and Wofford’s Mike Young, as well as interim coach Ron Bradley.

Brownell may now be the guy that Phillips and D’Andrea are focusing on.

He guided Wright St. to a 20-12 record this past season and took the Raiders to the Horizon League Championship Game this past season, where they dropped a 70-45 decision to then-No. 12 Butler, a team that eventually lost to Duke in the National Championship Game.

Before Wright St., he was the head man at UNC-Wilmington, and in his eight years as head coach has posted some fairly impressive numbers - he has won 20 games in six of his eight years, including all four years at Wright State. He has three tournament appearances under his belt, two with the Seahawks and one in his first year at the helm coaching the Raiders.

Brownell, 41, has a four-year record of 84-45 at Wright State, including that NCAA tournament in 2007. At UNC-W, he compiled an 83-40 record with two NCAA tourney trips. His in-laws still live in North Carolina. After his second NCAA Tournament appearance at UNC-W, Brownell supposedly asked the UNC-W athletic director for what he felt was a much-deserved raise, and he said no, which prompted his leaving to take the job at Wright St.

Brownell is a decent recruiter [his 2010 class includes four players that rated an 80 or higher according to ESPN], and his Raiders ranked 24th in the country in scoring defense in the nation at 60.9 points per game. They were on the minus side in rebounding margin, but did rank 32nd in free throw percentage at 73.3 points per game.

Wright St. was ranked 12th in the nation in turnover margin at 3.9 per game. They forced the opposition into 501 turnovers while committing 375 of their own.

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