Stephanie Gaitely resigned her position at Monmouth University to become the Head Basketball coach at Fordham University. The move no doubt affects many players in the Shore Conference and college coaches hoping to recruit the rich shore area.
First let me address Coach Gaitley leaving Monmouth, some have and will question her loyalty. There will be rumors about her and AD Marilyn McNeil not getting along. I say to both of those things… WHO CARES! and let me tell you why. Coaches go where the money is and do what is best for their families. Not one coach in the NEC would turn down this job DOWN, Fordham plays in a major COLLEGE conference and pays more MONEY. So bravo to Coach Gaitley for finding her way back to big time basketball.
Now let me address Athletic Director/Vice President Marilyn McNeil, she is a female AD in a world dominated by males. Trust me as someone WHO WAS IN in the college athletics world for 25 years, Marilyn McNeil has needed to have thick skin and not give into those who have a problem with women in leadership positions and if you don’t think that still goes on today, you are not living in the real world. She will be blamed up and down for not keeping Gaitley, but she will not be given any the credit for having the vision to hire Gaitley. McNeil is one of the best AD’s in the NEC and how do I know that? Because I was in the conference for 12 years. She took over the Monmouth program in the early years of Monmouth University’s move to division one basketball. She and Monmouth University have won the the NEC’s commissioner Cup given annually to the conference’s best overall athletic program 5 times, that’s more than any current school in the NEC, before she arrived the school had one that cup once! But People seem to have forgotten that it was under McNeil’s leadership that the men’s basketball team took off and they did it the right way. It was she that had to watch over the growing new Football program at Monmouth and it was under her leadership that the brand new MAC at Monmouth was built. One of the nicest area’s I have ever seen for the mid major level. The NEC years ago was like the wild wild west with schools taking talented players Monmouth would not even think about recruiting and that because McNeil made sure her coaches got the message loud and clear…WIN but win with GOOD KIDS. You have never heard of anything close to a major violation under this women’s leadership. She hired a young Dave Calloway when everyone said she was crazy and he rewarded her with NCAA tournaments and some great seasons of basketball, there were some exciting times at Monmouth University. She also gave Calloway every chance to turn his program around when things went bad…she did not pull the rug from under him, when everyone was calling for his head!….and anyone who wants to be the next head coach at Monmouth would be wise to remember this! The women is very loyal to her people.
Now how does Gatiely leaving affect Shore recruiting? For now Gatiley leaving has a major impact on the Shore and other colleges, but ONLY for now. Why you ask? One name and one name only…Sam Clark! I believe Sam Clark was leaning and I mean leaning hard to Monmouth University. Let me repeat that again one of Top Players In The Country was leaning very hard towards little Monmouth University. How do I know this? Here mother told me so, a week ago! But the bigger story was this, Hannah Missry another Major College Player made it clear that if Sam Clark went to Monmouth she would join her. Now people no disrespect to the NEC Conference, but Sam Clark in the NEC is kind of like Michael Jordan playing D3 basketball. But with Hannah Missry following and then you throw in KC Chambers plus the remaining players on the current team and future shore players and people you may have been looking at a Top 25 program, much like Marist College, a nationally ranked team in a low major conference. Instead I believe Rutgers, St. Joe’s, Seton Hall and others are doing a dance out at the final four. But they shouldn’t start dancing too much, because Gaitely will no doubt make a move on Clark at Fordham, is that right? maybe and maybe not. Would I recruit Clark if I was Gaietly? Damm right! But remember Fordham is a mess right now and I don’t care how good a job Gaitely does, they are years away from a tournament, while Monmouth is still knocking on the door. The talk about current kids leaving the Monmouth program, is laughable because players only leave bad programs and Monmouth is the best program in the NEC, something nobody seems to want to admit and McNeil like it or not is the person guiding the ship. I would tell every major college assistant coach and low-mid major head coach they better do their homework…. This is a GREAT JOB!
Administrators at the mid major level don’t know who the best basketball players in the Shore Conference are, that is not their jobs,that’s why there hire coaches. Marilyn McNeil I doubt knows that the Shore Conference is the best girls basketball conference in America with 16 players signing with division 1 schools such as Rutgers, Pittsburgh, U Penn, Manhattan, FDU, as well ACC, MAC and Big East schools this year. What I promise you she does know is that her women’s’ program got a major break though when KC Chambers verbaled to Monmouth University. Monmouth instantly became legit and now the Shore Conference loaded with underclassmen are talking about Monmouth University. In fact the best sophomore in the state and Top 100 ranked sophomore Kelly Hughes told me recently she visited Monmouth and liked it. Hughes who already has offers form Rutgers and a ton of other schools, is the type of player who would have not given Monmouth the time of day 3 years ago. It took Gaitely 3 years and the commitment of KC Chambers to get kids like this to consider Monmouth. I honestly believed after this years recruiting class, Monmouth could have become the next Marist… a Top 25 team in a small conference. Now is all that gone? …NO WAY! Monmouth can still achieve all this, why do I say this? Chambers was told weeks ago about Gaitely’s possible move. She is still wants to attend Monmouth and is waiting, I received 6 calls from colleges in the past week about KC Chambers. Each time I spoke to her mother Mary Beth Chambers, she said KC loves Coach Gaitley but we love Monmouth also. That does not sound like someone running out the back door. I believe Sam Clark will give the next Monmouth coach a strong look, her mother is in the Hall of Fame and her father went to school there as well. The problem is, for Monmouth to steal a player like Clark it takes years of recruiting. I spoke to Vince Missry the dad of Hannah, Monmouth is one of the many schools that have offered Hannah. He said they would no doubt wait to see what Sam Clark will do, because they really liked Monmouth, but having a big time player in the program helps that decision. She is going to wait and see what happens he says. He is also smart enough to know that Gaitely will be most likely be calling his daughter soon, but Monmouth is a local school and he too will wait and see.
Where does Monmouth go? First understand this about Marilyn McNeil, this is not a paper pusher. This women has been a college head basketball coach, so she knows what to look for in a coach, she has been an a associate AD, a senior women’s administrator and all she did all this before becoming an AD. So trust me she knows the landscape as well as anyone. She has played every role a person on the college athletic scene can play. She will need to update herself on the local talent, she will make sure that her current players are well taken care of…remember this, you will always have some unhappy people. But all in all Monmouth is in great shape as of today. I really don’t think much will change in the next few weeks. They simply will need to hire the right coach.
The candidates for this position will flock to this job like bees to honey. Monmouth will have no shortage of quality candidates. I believe this is a job for anyone who understands, Monmouth wants to win and win NOW. The name everyone including high school coaches, college coaches and recruits kept asking me about is Rutgers Assoc Head Coach Carlene Mitchell. So let me address that right away. I asked Coach Mitchell about the Monmouth job and she said and I will quote her exactly ” When you are successful people are always going to bring your name up, right now I am focused on our players development and their education here at Rutgers”. So I will take that to mean none of my business! So I will give you my thoughts about Monmouth chances of landing the Rutgers Assoc Head Coach. No college coach has done more damage in the State of New Jersey when it comes to recruiting more than Coach Mitchell and Sam Clark, KC Chambers, Hannah Missry and even Kelly Hughes will perk up ASAP if Marilyn could pull this one off! All those girls know Coach Mitchell and have a personal relationship with her on a first name bias and more importantly she has known them for years. The current players would have instant respect for her because of where she is coming from…Rutgers! She certainly would win the press conference and give the entire athletic department a positive shot in the arm.
But before anyone gets happy and starts dancing, let me give you the bad news. Carlene Mitchell has been at Rutgers for 12 years, do you really thing she has stayed there this long waiting for the Monmouth job? Do you think Hall of Fame Coach Stringer is going to let her recruiting coordinator walk out without a fight. Trust me when I tell you this, Rutgers has the resources to convince Mitchell to stay! Then the biggest road block of all is this… rumor is recently hired men’s Head Coach King Rice is making $170,000. Do you think Monmouth is going to pay there women’s head coach more than the men’s coach? Well that’s exactly want they would have to do to hire Carlene Mitchell away from Rutgers, she is the highest paid assistant coach in the Big East at $185,000 according to figures released by the state university. Throw in camp and what other bonuses most big time schools offer Top flight assistant coaches and I believe Marilyn McNeil has an almost impossible mountain to climb. But trust me if you know or have met Marilyn McNeil she will make contact with Coach Mitchell and believe if anyone can convince Mitchell it is Marilyn McNeil. She has a new Area, a good returning team, the beach and the wild card….A HEAD COACHING POSITION, isn’t that the reason all assistant coaches work so hard? to someday become a head coach. Coach Mitchell would be wise to take a visit to Monmouth, it is a sleeping Giant.
But not all lost because as I said early, people WILL WANT THIS JOB! Realistically Monmouth will most likely need to find a coach from a batch of what I believe will be full of more than qualified applicants for the job. McNeil for example could look at successful high school coaches as Marist College did and looked how that turned out! Dawn Karpell may be ready to make the jump, she played in the NEC and has won everything at the high school level and may fit the Monmouth budget, more importantly she has name power and is well liked. There are a number of big time assistant coaches that I think could fit the bill. There is always that the Div 2 or 3 head coach who is looking for a chance to move up to the next level, winning the press conference is always a issue when trying to hire a Div 2 or 3 coach. I believe McNeil may one of the few ADs who could less about this. Phyllis Mangina is looking for work, she is a seasoned veteran that did a solid job at Seton Hall, given the chance to work on equal ground, something she never had at Seton Hall, she may be a nice fit for Monmouth. Rachel Goodale of Jackson played at Monmouth, maybe Marilyn wants a Monmouth woman this time. I BELIEVE Marilyn McNeil will get it right, just as she did with Gaitley and Monmouth will become a power house.
I would like to pass along a little advice to Marilyn McNeil, a person I believe is being under estimated by some outsiders who don’t know her history at Monmouth. This is a big hire for Monmouth University women’s basketball. I believe there is a chance this program can move forward and not miss a beat, but she will need to make sure that who ever she hires…knows the landscape of the Shore Conference and knows how to build relationships! Gaitley was close and now the next Coach must get the Hawks over the top! Let’s all wish Marilyn and the Monmouth University community the best of luck. A great Monmouth University women’s basketball program is great for the Shore area and I for one will give Dr. McNeil my 100% support. Marilyn McNeil is one of ours and has been so for a long time!