BroncoBlitz staff had the opportunity to sit down with Western Michigan University athletic director Kathy Beauregard Monday morning to talk about some of the issues facing WMU athletics at this juncture. In part one of our series, Beauregard talks about the men's and women's basketball programs.
On women's basketball coaching search
One of the things that was really important to us, we had a small committee that works with us, and we did a national search. We had been watching games and looking at different coaches all along. One of the criteria that I have found over time that has been extremely helpful to us is to be able to find head coaches that have actually served in head coaching positions. The same thing happened in baseball with hiring Billy [Gernon] two years ago where what we liked about him is that he had nine years as a baseball coach at IPFW, and two years at Michigan State. Drawing from the experience is something that you can only do once you've been there. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't hire a person who hasn't been a head coach but I still believe strongly in, but it certainly is a piece that we've been utilizing that I think has helped during those transitions. We had a candidate pool of over 100 people interested, and pretty soon we narrowed it down to a top ten, then about a top five.
On Shane Clipfell
We certainly wanted to look at a diversified pool, but there was no doubt that Shane kept coming to the forefront. He had tremendous experience as a really successful high school coach, a lot of game management, a great career at Colon High School, which is not far from here. He applied for the job the last time, and I didn't hire him, and he had stayed very close to us, still communicating and telling us he still had some interest. He actually hasn't applied for another collegiate head coaching job since he did that year. He came in and did a great job with our student athletes, and did a great job with our committee, talked about why he wants to be a Bronco, why he considers this home, getting back to his roots. He had 14 years of assistant coaching with Suzy Merchant, who is the Michigan State coach, who has been extremely successful. They've been very successful at Eastern Michigan, which is not an easy place to win either, so he's had a tremendous amount of experience in the MAC and knows the MAC well. He pretty much had been running MSU's offense. His Midwest recruiting contacts, I contacted so many people all over the state, and there isn't anybody who didn't know him, and you couldn't turn a rock over and find anybody that didn't have great things to say about him. He treats people the way they want to be treated, will do the right things with the program, and has a great vision, and will do a tremendous job building the program up to MAC championships.
On 2011-12 basketball season
We do meet on a regular basis with our coaches to talk about and evaluate the year. I can tell you Coach Hawkins has been doing this for a long, long time, and I don't know any year where I've seen him have to endure some of the injuries or personal situations we went through on the team this year. They would be the first ones to say we didn't achieve the goals and objectives we wanted to, however I was extremely proud of the perseverance that we continued to show and the passion for Bronco basketball. I have no doubt that we have the right leader in place. Certainly it was a year of a lot of seniors, and now we're going to a year of a lot of freshmen that will be coming in. I have no doubt that we'll rebound this year. Once we did get healthy and get people back, we were there in terms of being in the tournament and being where we wanted to be. We certainly do have expectations of winning the MAC tournament and getting an NCAA berth.
On transfers and defections
I think you would find that it's not just us, but that it's very typical across the country. The one thing I would say about our programs is that we're open and honest with the student athletes. Sometimes there are personal reasons why it may or may not have worked, and we work very hard with those student athletes to make sure that if they're not happy and they want to achieve other goals that we can assist them in that process. Certainly every recruit you bring in, you hope will be successful and things will be exactly the way both sides wanted them to be, but when it doesn't work we want to make sure we're helping to facilitate that. Sometimes, too, it's very true, you come in and think you'll play one role and find out it's not the role you're going to play. We have those conversations with our coaching staff on a regular basis to make sure we're taking care of both sides of that.