Commentary | Brock Erickson's departure has SCF seeking fourth basketball coach in four years

adell@bradenton.comJune 12, 2013 

BRADENTON

Brock Erickson proved basketball at State College of Florida could be played at a high level. It's up to school administrators to show they are serious about maintaining that standard.

They have failed to do so up to this point, but they'll get another chance, albeit with a new coach.

Erickson was paid a stipend of $10,500 to coach the team, and now SCF will be looking for its fourth head basketball coach in four years.

Anyway you look at it, those numbers add up.

Erickson accepted a position as an assistant at Iona College (N.Y.), but said he is not sure he could've stayed another year at SCF because of the money.

You can't blame him. Who lives on $202 per week?

Any knowledgeable college basketball fan knew SCF would be lucky to have Erickson for two years. It got one and can't complain. This is a two-way street.

If you want a successful junior college basketball program, you can't do it with a part-time coach. SCF officials gave Erickson a stipend and then appeared indifferent. Erickson was left to sink or swim on his own.

"Obviously the financial aspect of any job is important, and it was to me," Erickson said. "Basketball is such a time-consuming job as a coach because there are so many other things involved, and academics is a huge part of it. Division I-caliber basketball players who come to a junior college are there because of academic issues, and it takes a long time to make sure those kids are getting the academic side right."

To his credit, Erickson

kept his players eligible academically, which had been a problem in recent years. His Manatees led the country in scoring and assists, went to the state tournament and won 20-plus games on the court.

He created enthusiasm that hasn't been seen around the basketball team since the glory days of Harry Kinnan.

By their inaction, SCF officials closed their eyes and crossed their fingers.

"They told me they were going to look into getting me a full-time job during the year and then I didn't hear anything after that," Erickson said. "An assistant coach at Iona left a couple of weeks ago, and they offered me a position. If SCF keeps doing what they are doing, it's going to be hard to keep somebody. I wanted to be there for the next 16 years. It was kind of considered to be a dream job to be head coach at a great junior college in the best region of the country."

So here we are back on the merry-go-round. SCF will create a search committee that hopefully will have at least one basketball person. They will conduct interviews, some via phone by the committee, an insult to any legitimate candidate.

If all they are going to offer is a $10,500 stipend, they should stay away from out-of-area coaches unless they don't mind riding a coaching carousel for the next decade or so.

They can hope for another Erickson, but if they find one he won't stay long.

There are some good candidates locally who have a full-time job, though none of them made it to the face-to-face interview phase the last time in a process that was badly flawed.

SCF has failed to make the financial commitment to the program that is needed.

That's their right and it's the fans right to stay away from the gym, which so many people have done over the last decade.

Basketball is a linchpin that can bring a campus together. It's been done all over the country. But not here, not at SCF.

Erickson earned $50,000 as an assistant at Monroe College (N.Y.) before he came here. It was brought up that this could present a problem, but an SCF official involved in the hiring process said he wasn't concerned because of the coach's enthusiasm.

This is not to say Erickson deceived anyone, but try living on $202 per week.

NCAA clears Haas to play

SCF had to forfeit 18 games after the National Junior College Athletic Association ruled that guard Anders Haas was ineligible because he played on a Danish club team (Horsholm 79ers) that had a player who some argued got paid at some time during his career.

The NCAA, recognizing that amateurs mixing with pros is common in Europe, cleared Haas to play, and he has signed with Division I University of Albany (N.Y.).

The initial ruling against Haas came from College of Central Florida athletic director Bob Zelinski, who is the NJCAA Region VIII director.

College of Central Florida won the national junior college championship. Will Saunders, one of its top players, played with professionals on Great Britain's national team. However, the NJCAA allows players to play with pros and not lose their eligibility if they are playing on a national team.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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