Rumors began swirling around the departure of Assistant Coach Rick Carter from the Western Michigan men's basketball program around 2 p.m. this afternoon. Those rumors were not confirmed by Head Coach Steve Hawkins this evening.
"I cannot comment," expressed Coach Hawkins. "What I can say is that this is a great thing. It's a great day for my friend. It's not always about basketball. It's my responsibility to take care of everybody that's a part of my program and help them get to where they want to be in their life. In Rick's case, this was a no brainer career move for him. That part of things, I'm really happy about."
The Broncos only have five more days of practice before they leave for Europe, so it's apparent that the coaching replacement isn't the first thing on Steve Hawkins' mind at the moment.
"The only really bad thing about this was the timing," said Hawkins. "But my focus right now is strictly on preparing this team. We only have ten days of practice once every 4 years. And I'm not going to spend those ten days worrying about who we're going to hire. My full focus will be getting this team prepared and ready for Europe."
If the rumors are indeed true, Carter will take a huge leap from the Mid-American Conference to the SEC, where he'll stand alongside National Coach of the Year & Big 12 Coach of the Year (Associated Press) Frank Haith. In 2011-2012, Haith led the Missouri Tigers basketball program to just their second 30-win season in program history, going 30-5 (14-4) entering the NCAA Tournament as a number 2 seed.
Shortly after the news, 2013 Western Michigan verbal commit, Leo Svete, spoke to BroncoBlitz.com and shared his excitement for the news about Coach Carter and his new position.
"I'm really happy for him," said Svete. "He deserves it. He's one of the best recruiters out there."
When asked whether or not this affected Svete's verbal pledge to the Broncos, Svete reaffirmed, "Yes, I'm so happy with my decision. I can't wait to get started!"
Rick Carter has spent the last four years on the Western Michigan coaching staff. Carter joined the Bronco basketball coaching staff after having spent 2006-08 at Fairfield University, and 2003-2006 at Michigan State University.
Carter's connection to the Missouri coaching staff appears to be through current Associate Head Coach Tim Fuller who spent one season (2006-2007) at Fairfield University, and Missouri Video Coordinator Bryan Tibaldi, who has crossed paths with Carter as a walk-on guard at Michigan State in 2005. Carter also holds extensive ties to the Michigan AAU recruiting scene in which the Missouri Tigers hope to cash in on four-star class of 2014 shooting guard Devin Booker, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is the son of Missouri great Melvin Booker (1991-94).
"This is what we do," explained Hawkins. "We help guys get to where they want to be. The reason it's not hard to replace coaches is because they know I'll do anything I can to help them advance their careers. [Western Michigan] has done that better than anyone else in the Mid-American Conference. Because of that there's always a long list of people wanting to work here. We'll hire somebody good. We have before many times, so I don't think we'll have any problems in this case either."