La Salle University will hire Fran Dunphy as head coach of men’s basketball

On Tuesday night, La Salle officially announced the hiring of Fran Dunphy as the head coach of men’s basketball. The university is his alma mater.

Dunphy, who is already the first to be the head coach of men’s basketball coaches at two Big 5 schools after long runs in both Penn and Temple, is making it to three schools. So what is already a unique Philadelphia coaching career is moving into a territory that will never be repeated.

“During my time at La Salle, I have met many passionate alumni who personify what it means to be an explorer,” said La Salle’s sports director Brian Baptiste. “Fran Dunphy is at the top of the list and it is an honor and a privilege to be able to present him as the 20th head coach in La Salle’s men’s basketball history. In my conversations with Fran, he has made it clear that he still has a passion for coaching and a burning desire to help his alma mater. I know he’s excited about getting to work, and I know our student-athletes will benefit from having him as the leader of our program. “

The news was first reported by The Inquirer. According to several sources, Dunphy is taking the job after he himself tried to convince several others, including former assistant Matt Langel, now Colgate’s successful head coach, to take it. Dunphy’s concern, said an alumnus close to him, is for the institution itself, beyond the basketball program.

If it sounds sublime, consider it in conjunction with a Tom Gola Arena renovation project that should reach the finish line. Also remember that Dunphy, now 73, agreed to be Temple’s interim sports director early in the pandemic. This is not the man’s first hard mission.

Leading La Salle’s program is considered to be the toughest of basketball missions. Between the lack of Atlantic 10 quality facilities and most of the current team now in the transfer portal, these are the heaviest lifts.

Dunphy will replace Ashley Howard, letting go after a 13-19 season, his fourth in charge of the Explorers. In 30 seasons as head coach at Penn and Temple, Dunphy had 24 winning seasons where he went to the NCAA Tournament 17 times. But this is not about sprucing up a resume. This is about a native son returning to his school, trying to elevate it to relevance or preventing it from sinking further. A source said Dunphy would only take the job if the school listened when he told it the program needs something, without asking questions. Several sources said Dunphy is the one who could make phone calls and get old guard alumni to support the program again.

“La Salle has given me so much over the years,” Dunphy said in the statement. “It gave me a chance to be part of several teams as a student-athlete, an opportunity to form lifelong friendships and helped shape me into the man I am today. I can not wait to work with the young men on the team, reintroducing myself to the campus community and helping my alma mater as much as I can. “

On the day Howard was released, La Salle sent a note to alumni from the president’s office, noting that La Salle’s board had approved “the next phase of the design process for an arena project,” with external fundraising continued. So the key part: “In 2013, the university received a limited planned gift, generously donated by John Glaser, ’62, specifically to support an arena project. To be able to use this property gift, which is currently valued at $ 6.2 million, an arena project must break ground during the 2023 calendar year. The University would solely fund this project through philanthropic contributions. “

»READ MORE: Former Temple coach Fran Dunphy has a lot of knowledge about both North Carolina and Duke

Dunphy had been an assistant at La Salle for some great years under Speedy Morris. He even came off the bench as a sophomore and junior for the Explorers. In his final season, Dunphy averaged 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists per game.

This search has from the beginning been about more than basketball. It has also been about waiting and seeing if Dunphy could be persuaded to take it. There is a precedent, a La Salle alum pointed out near Dunphy, and Dunphy is very aware of that. When Jim Harding, Dunphy’s former coach, traveled after a turbulent year for the pros, and also left La Salle with NCAA problems that kept them out of the offseason of the 1968-69 season, Tom Gola, the school’s greatest basketball alum, and at the time when the controller of the city of Philadelphia took charge. The Explorers finished 23-1, with Dunphy as a key reserve in his junior season.

“La Salle needed him,” Dunphy himself said in 2014 in the days after Gola died. “He probably did not have time, but he had that way over him, to help anyone who needed him.”

This time, several sources said that a large number of La Salle candidates hit Dunphy and encouraged him to come home to his alma mater. A phone call, according to someone who heard one end of the call, was with Morris, his old boss. Morris told Dunphy that he had earned the right to a nice retirement, to play all the golf he wanted. Morris said he was sure Dunphy heard from all sorts of people saying either “Take it” or “Are you crazy?” Morris said, your decision.

Then Speedy could not help himself: “But I need you to take this job!”

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