Greg Hansen: Hiring process at Pima puzzling

2010-07-21T00:00:00Z Greg Hansen: Hiring process at Pima puzzlingGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 21, 2010 12:00 am  • 

If you're hiring the men's basketball coach at Pima College, a position that drew 26 applicants, you stop at the envelope labeled "Jim Rosborough."

It makes the other 25 applicants seem - what's the word I'm looking for - unnecessary? Yes. It makes the other 25 envelopes seem unnecessary.

Rosborough included transcripts from his days as an Iowa Hawkeye basketball player. He included the part about coaching four Final Four basketball teams, including three under Lute Olson at Arizona.

Rosborough detailed his career work in community relations, fundraising and academics. And it's not like he's some interloper from Texas or West Virginia trying to get rich quick. He has lived in Tucson for 21 years and, besides, the job was to pay, at most, $20,000.

After his interview, in which he supplied 70 pages of documentation from a distinguished career, Rosborough remembers a selection committee member telling him, "See you next season."

The Aztecs finished No. 7 in the NJCAA finals last year, the most successful season in school history. Karl Pieroway was the head coach. He spent much of his time teaching at a middle school. Rosborough, 65, whose stipend worked out to something like $1.35 an hour, spent his days on campus, trying to keep players eligible, healthy and productive. He did the film work. He ran the early-morning training sessions. It all clicked.

In the six seasons before Rosborough arrived at Pima, the Aztecs had gone 49-131.

If you are hiring the basketball coach at PCC, you have hit the mother lode. How often does someone like Jim Rosborough come through the door? Once?

"I loved my year at Pima," he says now. "I worked well with Karl. I didn't overstep my bounds."

In his brief time at PCC, Rosborough raised money so the team could eat together, bonding in pre-game meals. He raised money so it could celebrate a region championship and other breakthroughs at big-name restaurants. He raised money to get medals to commemorate the season. He advised the Aztecs on the proper way to dress and carry themselves. It was more than coaching. It was a class on lifestyle.

And still they did not hire him.

Pieroway resigned April 19, changed his mind for a few hours in early May and then resigned a second time. Essentially, Pima's basketball program has been shut down since the night the Aztecs finished No. 7 in the nation. That was March 20.

"I'm very disappointed for the kids," said Rosborough. "They've had no direction since March, in either basketball or academics.

"I'm not a man with a big ego, but in this situation they should've asked me right away, in April, to take this on for a few more years. But that's Pima being Pima. It's puzzling, but it's not the end of the world."

Finally, late last week, Pima chancellor Roy Flores, who runs the PCC athletic department the way George Steinbrenner ran the Yankees, hired 52-year-old Rick Gary to coach the men's basketball team.

Gary has never been a head coach at any level. He coached and played for years under a legend, Sahuaro High's Dick McConnell, and twice served as an assistant on PCC staffs. I've known Rick Gary for 25 years. He is a thoughtful and responsible man who might be able to overcome years of ineptness at Pima; his heart and mind are in the right place.

The kids will come first for Gary the way they did for Rosborough. In this context, Pima did well. Its absurd hiring process didn't land the big fish, but it landed one with commitment and community leverage.

"Pima County has more than 1 million people; if we can't find 15 good basketball players it's on me," Gary said Tuesday. "We always try to be competitive, but this is an educational environment first."

In the meantime, the long and awkward lag of replacing Pieroway has been costly. Two-time NJCAA finals coach Jerry Carrillo of Cochise College landed 6-foot-9-inch Sabino High School center Matt Korcheck.

"He might be the best prospect I've ever recruited," Carrillo said.

All momentum from the 20-win season has vanished. Pieroway's rebuilding project, with Rosborough's aid, has been undone.

"It's inexcusable and an embarrassment to the school," said Rosborough. "It's been irritating how the whole thing was handled. Maybe it's good to be out of there."

It is now on Gary to change the culture of Pima basketball and overcome the inability of the PCC administration to hang onto a winner.

Edgar Soto, the school's athletic director, is allowed to speak with the media only if he's accompanied by a Flores-appointed monitor. He defended the process and the selection of Gary.

"It's the way we do things," Soto says. "We formed a search committee. There's a lot involved. It took time."

The sense here is that Rosborough was too big a personality for the PCC chancellor. He is not one to put under your thumb. Flores dumped him the same way he dumped two of the most successful coaches in Tucson prep history, football coach Jeff Scurran and basketball coach Brian Peabody.

Since Flores forced Scurran to resign, the Aztecs have gone 1-49 in football.

I wish Rick Gary the best of luck, because he's going to need it.

Contact Greg Hansen at 573-4362 or ghansen@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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