Joe Dooley with the University of Kansas Team / Special to news-press.com
(News-Press.com) - Two years ago, FGCU handed over the reins to arguably the most-important team on campus to an outside coach with glowing references and credentials but scant name recognition.
It worked so well the Eagles tapped the same well again.
Long-time University of Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley, 47, a West Orange, N.J., native who played at St. Benedict's High School in New Jersey and George Washington University before ultimately helping Kansas win a national championship in 2008, was announced as the new FGCU coach Wednesday.
Dooley takes over a program that last month became the first No. 15 seed in NCAA tournament history to reach the Sweet 16, captivating sports fans and others along the way with a joyous, high-flying playing style that came to be known as "Dunk City."
"We're excited about the potential. We're excited about the community," Dooley said by way of introduction in a media conference call Wednesday evening. "I'm looking forward to hopefully getting down there and having a lot of success with FGCU."
In replacing former FGCU coach Andy Enfield, who took a job with Southern California on April 1 after only seasons in Southwest Florida, FGCU bypassed one of Enfield's former assistants, Marty Richter, in favor of a more-seasoned coach with head-coaching experience.
Dooley, who spent the past 10 seasons at Kansas working for head coach Bill Self, went 57-52 overall in four seasons at East Carolina from 1995-1999. He spent three years as an assistant at New Mexico and one at Wyoming after that before joining Self's Kansas staff in 2003.
Dooley takes over an FGCU program that wrapped up its sixth season in Division I with a 26-11 overall record, an A-Sun Tournament title and a run to the NCAA Sweet 16 to become the first No. 15 seed to do so.
"There's obviously some things with maturity," Dooley said of his return to head coaching after declining other offers during his tenure at Kansas. "I'm a lot better coach than I was."
Dooley, who has one child, son Max, 9, with wife Tanya, was offered a five-year contract by FGCU paying $225,000 annually. Dooley received a salary of $300,000 at Kansas, according to school records.
Audio MP3 Phone interview with new FGCU coach Joe Dooley
Bypassed for the FGCU job was Richter, 36, the second assistant to Enfield for two seasons before spending a little more than the past two weeks as the FGCU interim coach.
Richter earned $51,000 at FGCU. Enfield earned $157,500 in his final season at FGCU.
"It wasn't really what Marty didn't possess. It's what coach Dooley is bringing to FGCU," said FGCU athletic director Ken Kavanagh, who, as with the Enfield hiring two years ago, conducted the coaching search alone before making his recommendation to school president Wilson Bradshaw.
Reactions on Twitter to Dooley's hiring
"He has been a head coach for four years in Division I, and the program successes that he's had at Kansas. Those were the types of things that were the difference."
Richter and former FGCU staff members Michael Fly and Joey Cantens have been offered positions to remain at FGCU on Dooley's staff. FGCU players also openly lobbied for Richter to become the head coach, creating potential chemistry and continuity conflicts for those staying or departing.
Dooley, who is scheduled to arrive in Southwest Florida on Sunday and be introduced at a formal press conference on campus on Monday, spent much of his time Wednesday on the phone with FGCU's players and interim coaches.
While his selection as head coach came as a surprise to many in Southwest Florida, Dooley was hopeful and confident that FGCU's success begun under Enfield can be maintained under his watch.
"This isn't about one person," Dooley said. "This is about the program and the team moving forward and continuing what they've built. We're all in this together. Hopefully they're as excited as I am."
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