Short timeline set for Demons’ basketball hire

Northwestern State athletic director Kevin Bostian (left) is moving fast to find the successor to Demon basketball coach Mike McConathy. (Photo by CHRIS REICH, Northwestern State)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

Northwestern State’s search producing new athletic director Kevin Bostian took two months. His search for a successor to longtime basketball coach Mike McConathy will take only a week.

McConathy, 66, was lauded at a Tuesday morning event in Prather Coliseum, ending his 23 years running the Demons’ program. Bostian, who took over Northwestern’s athletic department Feb. 7, hopes to introduce the new coach next Tuesday.

Bowlsby Sports Advisors, the same firm that ran NSU’s AD search, was hired Monday afternoon, not long after Bostian met with McConathy. Immediately, Bostian and Kyle Bowlsby compared lists of potential candidates and began trimming the field. As news spread about McConathy’s exit, inquiries began pouring in to Bostian, who is redirecting all to Bowlsby for vetting.

A preliminary list of candidates to interview was set Tuesday morning and the first conversation via Zoom occurred Tuesday night. Demons’ associate head coach Jeff Moore, who anchored McConathy’s staff for 16 years, interviewed Wednesday morning and by midnight, the other early favorites also had Zoom conversations with Bostian and Bowlsby about the job.

This morning, Bostian and Bowlsby will confer to narrow the list to top contenders. Latecomers to the candidate pool will get consideration as warranted, Bostian said.

“The plan as of right now,” he said, “is to bring two finalists to campus Monday, make an offer Monday night and potentially have a press conference next Tuesday afternoon.”

University president Marcus Jones is traveling to France but will be involved, including in Zoom meetings with the finalists, Bostain said.

But any coaching search is fluid, especially one fast-tracked. The short turnaround is vital, he said.

“The reason we have to do that is because of the urgency of the transfer portal, both with our own kids – Kendal (Coleman, NSU’s standout freshman center, who entered the portal Monday afternoon) being one of them – and kids the new coach may look at bringing in.”

What’s the broad description for the next Demons basketball coach?

“I want somebody who has ties to Louisiana and/or Texas, who has a documented pedigree for recruiting, somebody who has successfully recruited high school kids, but has also used the transfer portal. That’s changed college basketball. You can get good, very quickly with that,” Bostian said. “I want somebody who embraces that. You still have to have a foundation, and I think that’s through high school basketball. It has to be somebody who can recruit high schools, junior colleges, and use the portal, and can make all those pieces fit.”

His ideal candidate would have head coaching experience, but Bostian is open-minded on that point.

“It would be nice, but it’s not required,” he said. “We need somebody who’s very personable and knows how to engage recruits and their families, and somebody who can represent Northwestern in the community and in the surrounding area.

“My vision for the program is that we should be competing for our Southland Conference championship every year. We’re not going to win it every year – you never know what happens in those three or four days in March (at the conference tournament, the Southland’s only path to the NCAA Tournament) – but I want to be competitive in the top third or half of the conference year in, year out.

“We’re going to increase our resources for the program, so the expectation is to have a chance to win it every year. That’s the vision,” said Bostian, who indicated the additional financial support will come both from within the university and through outside revenues, including game guarantees.

“There are things Dr. Jones, (executive vice president) Jerry Pierce and I are working on that can help all of our sports, especially football and men’s basketball,” he said.

McConathy’s track record will loom large as his successor is selected.

“Coach McConathy did a great job in fundraising and so many other areas, and we need to expand upon that,” Bostian said.

“This job is wanted. Coaches know they can win here, because Coach McConathy did that again and again over time. This is an attractive job, and I’m fully confident we can hire a person who can move our program forward, someone who will be very strong.”