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Skinner's future at BC in doubt

Posted by Mark Blaudschun, Globe Staff  March 29, 2010 06:42 PM

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As St. Johnís focused on making former UCLA coach Steve Lavin its next basketball coach, Boston College coach Al Skinner remained in the mix, but not as the primary backup. With that information in hand, BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo, who granted St. Johnís permission to talk to Skinner last week, is preparing for a future without him.

According to sources within the BC athletic department, DeFilippo has contacted a few schools and requested permission to talk to its coaches. According to the sources, DeFilippo has not had direct contact with any coach, but is prepared to act quickly if he has an opening.

There was growing speculation today that BC might make a change even if Skinner does not get the St. Johnís job. Skinner was regarded as the backup plan for St. Johnís, but yesterday, according to sources at St. Johnís, athletic director Chris Monasch set up a tentative interview with Rhode Island coach Jim Baron.

The ideal situation for BC is for Skinner to get the job at St. Johnís. He interviewed Friday, but was not given assurances he was the leading candidate. St. Johnís officials want a coaching staff with strong New York City ties. Skinner, who comes from Long Island, said he wanted to bring his entire staff to New York, but none have strong New York City backgrounds.

Lavin, who has not coached for seven years, was agreeable to having a New York City connected staff. Part of the package St. Johnís is putting together for Lavin includes Dave Leitao, who was an assistant at Connecticut and the head man at Northeastern, DePaul and Virginia, and Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen.

According to sources at St. Johnís, Lavin will meet with school officials tonight to work out the final details, with an announcement expected tomorrow morning. St. Johnís officials called media outlets in New York this afternoon telling them to keep
Wednesday morning clear for an announcement.

Lavin, who was fired by UCLA seven years ago and has worked for ESPN as a college basketball analyst, spent a week talking to North Carolina State officials in 2006 before deciding to remain at ESPN.

He could do the same thing if St. Johnís doesnít meet his salary demands or if there is some other snag. Skinner seemed the logical choice after Lavin until this afternoon when Baron entered the picture.

Skinnerís situation at BC appears precarious, but just because DeFilippo asked permission to talk to other coaches is no guarantee Skinner will be fired.

If Skinner is dismissed, BC will be obligated to pay the final three years of his contract, which could mean a $3 million buyout. But all BC head coaches have had offset clauses in their contracts, which means the payoff would be offset by the salary in the coachís next job.

Harvardís Tommy Amaker and Cornellís Steve Donahue would likely be the two prime candidates on BCís wish list if Skinner is no longer with BC as well as Richmond coach Chris Mooney. According to sources at BC, none of those coaches has been contacted.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.

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