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Gulf Coast unimpeded in its quest to replace Scovel

By Dustin Kent
Replacing a legend in the best of times is a daunting challenge. Replacing said legend during a worldwide viral outbreak adds a whole other layer of difficulty to the process.

However, Gulf Coast’s quest to replace retiring women’s basketbal coach Roonie Scovel continues in earnest, and both Scovel and GC athletic director Mike Kandler say that the process is still yielding a great crop of candidates.

“It’s unique trying to piece that together,” Kandler said. “Like everything else we’re taking it day by day, but overall it hasn’t impeded our progress too much. The question is if it has cut down on the amount of candidates because people might say, ‘hey, it’s a terrible time right now to look for a new job,’ but it doesn’t seem that way because we do have a number of good candidates who have applied.”

Scovel, who announced her retirement in late February and leaves after 22 seasons with 646 victories, 18 Panhandle Conference titles, 13 region titles, and six national titles, said she is concerned about the uncertainty of the situation affecting the coaching search, though she’s still confident she’ll be succeeded by a highly-qualified coach.

“I’ve thought about it a lot, worried about it a lot,” she said. “The coaching search is gonna be tough. I can’t say what my opinion is, but I think where there’s a will ... if anybody’s strong enough to handle this it’s Panhandle strong.

“Our campus, obviously we’ve been through a lot. This is something that nobody has gone through across the whole world. But we’re pretty good with being flexible and dealing with adversity, so I think we’ll get through this.”

Kandler said there have been over 70 applicants for the position as of this week, with the hiring committee to meet within the next week to narrow down the field of candidates.

From there will come setting up interviews, which will all have to be done via Skype.

“That’s been done before,” Kandler said. “It’s not really that big of a deal. Hopefully by the time we get to a point where we select a candidate we can maybe move through this thing a little bit.”

The hope, according to Kandler, is to get a new women’s basketball coach hired by May 1, though he said that obviously there is flexibility there given the circumstances.

“We think we can stick to that, but again, there are so many unknowns in the world right now,” he said. “There’s not a guarantee that it’s gonna happen by then. If it has to go (past May 1) then it has to. We don’t really have many options.

“We’re trying to do what we can every day. Obviously we want to get a coach hired because a coach has to recruit and whatnot, but at this point it really wouldn’t matter because the NJCAA has taken everybody off the road, the NCAA has taken everybody off the road, and you’re not really allowed to do any recruiting anyway.

“But we still want to have somebody in place as quick as possible under these terrible conditions.”

As for the qualifications of the next coach, Scovel said that the committee was flexible on that as well.

While Gulf Coast men’s basketball coach Phil Gaffney brought a great deal of JUCO head coaching experience when he was hired last year, Scovel said the next women’s coach won’t necessarily need to have the same type of profile.

“We’re just focusing on the best prospects,” she said. “I was a high school coach when I got the job, Mike Kandler was a high school coach when he got the (head baseball coach) job, and I’ll tell you right now that my middle school and high school experience has been very valuable in my coaching career at Gulf Coast. I would definitely count that as being important.”

 

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