Phillips: Team needed a “new voice” to move forward
Jim Phillips did not take his decision to fire Bill Carmody after 13 years as Northwestern’s head coach, announced Saturday morning, lightly. A somber Jim Phillips addressed the media letting them know everything that Bill Carmody has meant to the Northwestern basketball program and what he envisions for the future of Northwestern basketball. In the end though, a decision had to be made and Northwestern needed to move forward.
Phillips said he expects all of the programs at Northwestern “from football to field hockey to fencing” to compete for and win Big Ten championships. And so looking at the body of work these past 13 years, it was time now to make the change.
And so Northwestern will search for a men’s basketball coach for the first time since 2000. Phillips said he will be looking for someone that will “embrace recruiting” and embrace the academic and athletic culture at Northwestern. To assist in that, Phillips said Northwestern has contracted Parker hiring services, who helped Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska in their coaching searches, to assist in the process. Phillips gave no timetable for when the decision will be made, only saying he will not come to the office on Monday with a coach in mind.
It was clearly an emotional day for Phillips as he talked about the emotion-filled meeting he had with players earlier in the day, with the coaching staff and with Carmody himself.
Phillips said he made the decision Friday, but wanted to sleep on it before making the decision final. He informed Carmody on Saturday morning of his final decision, he said. And Carmody handled the news “with class as he always does.”
For all the complaining about Carmody and the hand-wringing over his never getting Northwestern to the NCAA Tournament, he accomplished a lot with Northwestern. Phillips made sure to mention those accomplishments so that they were not forgotten even on a day the program was moving on. Carmody took a program that could not even dream of a postseason to four consecutive NIT berths and a level of respectability the program has not had in a very long time.
It was obviously difficult to say good bye to all of that. And Phillips admitted that there is a risk that the program takes a step back. But Phillips envisions more for the program than “just” NIT appearances. That is what this decision ultimately came down to.
The team was still reacting and now Phillips is working with the team to get their input on what they want from a new coach and helping them deal through the change. Phillips was asked specifically about Drew Crawford, who is expected to get a medical hardship and be eligible next year, but could very well leave the program since he will graduate this year. Phillips said he will have a one-on-one meeting with Crawford early next week.
Phillips said he hopes Crawford is the catalyst for the team coming together under the new coach and propelling the program forward next year.
As for the recruits, Phillips said he made initial contact with Nate Taphorn and Jaren Sina and will talk with them in full later today. Phillips said he hopes they will both decide to stay with Northwestern, but will respect their decisions to leave if that is what they decide to do.
Taphorn told Nicholas Medline of Scout that he will honor his commitment to Northwestern and will not make a decision until he meets the new coach. But Medline noted Taphorn did not seem happy that Carmody was dismissed.
Taphorn, though not happy, will stay. MT @rlins12Hope someone asks Dr. Jim about likelihood NU hoops takes step back thanks to decommits
— Nick Medline (@NicholasMedline) March 16, 2013
There are a lot of pieces to clean up. The current assistant coaching staff has not been ruled out for anything and their future is very much in flux.
Just like everything else. The future is very uncertain for Northwestern as the program begins the coaching search in earnest and begins preparations for the next season. The one thing Phillips wanted to do was make sure the program could continue recruiting. Phillips said he did not want recruits being left in the air as Carmody played out the final year of his contract. He now wants a coach who will “embrace” recruiting and build the program. That was often a criticism for Carmody.
The deed is done now. Northwestern will go quiet as it conducts its search. The next time we hear from Jim Phillips it will be to introduce a new coach.