Photo by Autumn Walter |CIGAR|
The University of Rhode Island announced on Wednesday, April 4 that David Cox, the associate head coach for the men’s basketball team, was promoted to the head coach. The announcement resulted in mostly positive reactions from students on the Kingston campus.
The opening for the head coach position was created when Dan Hurley left URI to take the head coaching job at the University of Connecticut on March 22. At a press conference following Hurley’s departure, URI Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn said that the University would conduct a national search for a head coach. At the press conference, he mentioned Cox as a candidate, which was the only candidate specified by name.
Cox has been a member of the URI Men’s Basketball staff for the past four years and has been the associate head coach for the past two seasons. Cox was responsible for recruiting former player Stanford Robinson from Indiana, as well as recruiting current players Daron Russell and Jeff Dowtin. He also recruited three players in the upcoming recruiting class, which includes four-star recruit Jermaine Harris.
Harris, as well as two three-star recruits, Tyrese Martin and Dana Tate Jr., tweeted after Hurley’s departure that they still planned to play at URI. However, on Monday, Harris, Martin, and Tate Jr. said on Twitter that they had heard names other than Cox being mentioned for the head coach position despite the fact that they had signed up to play for Cox. Now that Cox is head coach, Harris, Martin, and Tate are expected to stay committed to URI.
Students at URI generally reacted positively to the news that Cox was named the new head coach, saying that he is a good choice. Cox does, however, have large shoes to fill as Hurley’s successor. Hurley brought the URI program back to relevance, and many believe he will do the same at UCONN. “You will see him on the National stage,” Matthew Kalhofer, a student, said.
One of the biggest factors that made students pleased with URI hiring Cox was his ability to recruit. Furthermore, recruits from this year’s recruiting class had loyalty towards Cox, which left students unsure if they would stay committed to URI if Cox was not hired. “I think it’s huge,” said Jake Schneider, a student. “Lots of players were showing on social media that they wouldn’t come back if they didn’t hire him.” Schneider acknowledged that Hurley changed the URI program but that he is happy with Cox as the new coach.
Other students agreed that Cox’s ability to recruit makes him an attractive coaching option. “He knows how to recruit,” freshman Michael Williams said. “They stayed in house and the players already know him.” Other students also had a similar view that staying in house with the hire was a smart choice by URI. Williams said that Cox has experience as an assistant, but only time will tell if he is able to make an effective transition to being head coach.
A sophomore in the pep band, Jacob Nickerson, said he thinks Cox will be great for the program. Furthermore, Nickerson explained that by hiring Cox, URI is doing what other successful schools have done by hiring in house. “It’s keeping consistency going,” he said. “It’s a shift in our program.”
Conversely, some students said they believe that URI could have found a higher-profile coach. Several students said they wished the University hired Rick Pitino. Reports had surfaced that URI was considering Pitino, but both the University and Pitino denied those claims.
Multiple students said that hiring Pitino would have put URI in a National spotlight, which they believed would help bring in bigger named recruits and more money to the program. Students who wanted Pitino said they think URI simply hired Cox in order to avoid losing their current recruits.
Students who said that they frequently went to games this past season plan to continue to attend regardless of the fact that there will be a new coach and a vastly different roster this upcoming season. “I will still support them, that’s not changing at all,” freshman Brian Potts said. Other students that while they do not closely follow the program, they hope that for the sake of spirit on campus Cox can succeed as the new head coach.