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Feb. 1, 2008

South Carolina Athletics Director Eric Hyman met with members of the media Friday afternoon to discuss the status of the men’s basketball coaching search. Below is an excerpt of Hyman’s press conference.

“I have called several former head coaches and I asked them some questions. One of the questions I asked them was what are the five potential issues that coaches, if they’re looking for this job, what are they looking for. If you’re looking for a job in general, what are the things that are important to you? Everyone you talk to is not the same, but you get themes of what’s important to them. I’m going to go through and here are some of the themes they told me.”

“Admission standards are an issue. Academic support and degrees to which student-athletes can graduation. Another theme is ability to recruit. That counts facilities, practice, game, academics, weight room, locker room, offices, their budget and assistant coach salaries. Geographically [situated] to be able to recruit.”

“Another area is tradition and interest. They’re going to study past success. They’re going to find out the history of the program, and they’re also going to find the overall interest and does the place have potential. Another area is the financial package. The last sort of thing is the administration. Who is the AD and their track record. They’ll crosscheck, they’ll call other people to find the track record. A secondary issue is the President (of the University) and where is basketball in the pecking order.”

“We’re obviously ahead of the curve and have the opportunity to have a lot of due-diligence. If you talk to people in my background, they’ll tell you I do a lot of research. I think that’s very important.”

“This is the way I do searches. I sit down with the athletes. I think it’s very important to get input. When we did women’s golf I did the same thing. I said, `What do you want? What is important?’ You’re not going to hire the coach but what’s important to you. I sat down and listened to them. From that I said what I will try to do is get your feelings and start developing a profile and trying to get that profile to match up to our search.”

“I also said there’s going to be a lot of rumors. What I said to them is I want a liaison to the program. I want to give them my phone numbers and you can call me 24 hours a day. I got them over to the office, sat down and talked and sat any kind of concern you have you can call me anytime. I’ll be happy to talk to with you.”

“I will sit down and talk to some of the former players. It is important to me to get some of their input. Through this and our current players, you begin to get an understanding of what we’re trying to achieve and what’s important.”

“Timetable. I will do it as soon as possible. There’s not going to be a specific date or whatever. I want to make sure I make the right decision. I’ve seen too many athletic directors in the past set a date and end up not making it. We have an advantage here because we’re out so much sooner than other people. We have a chance to really do our research and have a grasp of what the marketplace is.”

“Will I use a headhunting firm? No. One of the things I’m really blessed with is I have somebody on the staff named Al Daniel. Al knows basketball around the country. He’s from Saluda. He was a student at Furman, played at Furman, coached at Furman, coached at Tulsa, coached at North Carolina State and he coached at Tennessee. I have a lot of respect for Al. He understands the marketplace and he knows people. You look at somebody like that and he knows a lot more than a headhunter.”

“The bottom line I try to look for in any coaching search is work ethic, intelligence and integrity. Those are the corner stones and then you build on it with a lot of the things you extrapolate from the athletes and some of these people that really know the University of South Carolina.”

“A lot of people ask me what kind of a job is it at the University of South Carolina. I think it’s a heck of a job. We have a state of the art facility. People know that our facility is second to none. We have a fantastic practice facility. I think another key issue is people understand the aggressiveness that we’re taking from a facilities standpoint. That’s why from the get-go the Academic Enrichment Center has been the cornerstone of what I’ve been trying to do. We’re aggressively pursuing that. We’re going those things and when a student-athlete steps on this campus we’re going to make a tremendous presentation from an academic standpoint and an athletic standpoint.”

“There is no perfect person out there. The whole philosophy in life is everyone has challenges, everyone has problems, so we work together as a team to try to solve the problems… We have challenges ahead of us. We have huge potential. Now the key is to max the potential. You have a great nucleus of student-athletes coming back. Some situations you go into the program and all the coaches know you find out it’s going to be a hellacious rebuilding year. You look at here and you’ve got people that their future’s really in front of them.”

On targeting assistant coaches or head coaches
“It’s open. I’ve been in situations that I’ve hired individuals who weren’t head coaches. There’s a little bit of a risk factor. That takes a lot of energy to be able to mentor that person. I wouldn’t say no to that, but if I had to I’d probably lean in the direction of trying to hire (with experience).”

On type of coach he’s searching for
“We want somebody that wants to be a Gamecock. Someone that wants to be part of basketball (tradition) at South Carolina and embraces it and works hard to help it and continue to build it.”