A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Hampton Loses Men’s Basketball Coach
Steve Merfeld danced with Hampton, Wisconsin-Green Bay offered him an engagement ring, but Evansville took him to the alter. Merfeld will was introduced as Evansville’s men’s basketball coach last week.
In five seasons at Hampton University, Merfeld’s Pirates went 90-57 and 51-14 the last two seasons. Merfeld turned around a stagnant Pirates program and led them to the now famous upset of Iowa State in the 2001 NCAA Tournament West Regional. They showed this victory was no fluke, as they returned to the post season this year, and a valiant first-round performance against Connecticut.
As expected, the suitors for his services were many. Bradley University called first. Then came Wisconsin-Green Bay. Merfeld, a Wisconsin native, appeared the ideal and leading candidate. Wisconsin-Green Bay was committed to a 1 month search process and Merfeld kept his options open in the interim.
In comes Bowling Green, who lost its coach, Dan Dakich, to West Virginia. Merfeld served 10 years as a Bowling Green assistant coach so now we have perfect fit No. 2. However, Dakich returned to Bowling Green amidst pending NCAA sanctions against the West Virginia basketball program.
On Monday, Bill McGillis (Evansville AD) called Merfeld, who was interviewing in Green Bay. Merfeld flew to Evansville that evening and participated in an interview. On Thursday, less than 24 hours after Wisconsin-Green Bay extended Merfeld an offer, McGillis presented yet another option. Merfeld was now wallowing in a multitude to options, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Evansville or return to Hampton. He chose the Evansville Aces.
This move by Merfeld is somewhat questionable because Evansville recently considered downgrading to Division II or III status. Coupled with the Aces losing a school-record 21 games in 2002, he’ll definitely have his work cut out for him.
Bobby Collins, Merfeld’s assistant, was announced as Hampton’s coach at 11 a.m. today in a news conference at the Hampton University Convocation Center.
Collins, 36, has been an assistant at Hampton for seven seasons.
Prior to arriving at Hampton, he spent 1 year as an assistant coach at Old Dominion University. Collins has been hired on a one-year interim basis, according to sources familiar with the program.