Hudson Valley Sports Report

THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW MARIST HIRED JOHN DUNNE

St. Peter’s Coach Was Always On The Radar, But Initially Said ‘No’

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

POUGHKEEPSIE – The hiring of John Dunne to be the next head men’s basketball coach at Marist College might sound like it came out of the blue.

His was a name not reported by Hudson Valley Sports Report or any other media as being a candidate during the last month – and his hiring announced Tuesday came just four days after LeMoyne College coach Patrick Beilein spurned Marist’s offer.

Yet, in actuality, Dunne was at the top of the list.

So why are we just literally hearing his name for the first time in regards to the search?

Because he initially told Marist Director of Athletics Tim Murray ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’

“That’s true,” Murray told Hudson Valley Sports Report Tuesday afternoon. “I’m just glad it’s all done now. No pun intended.”

Here’s how the hiring of Marist’s 12th men’s basketball coach overall and eighth in the Division I era – and the fifth in the last 12 years – played out.

After firing Mike Maker on March 5, Murray began the process of compiling a long ist of names. That included head coaches, assistant coaches, hot commodities, even Division II coaches like Beilein and St. Thomas Aquinas coach Tobin Anderson.

“John Dunne was actually one of my first phone calls,” Murray told HVSR. “I had a fairly significant list that I wanted to speak to (candidates) and gauge their interest, and John was one of them. I always had respect for his team, how he defends, how they play, and for John himself.”

Murray said they talked about the Marist job, what went wrong the last 10 years, what it entails, what it will take to rebuild the program.

“But, he just wasn’t feeling it,” Murray admitted. “And I respected that. So I moved on.”

About halfway through the search, Dunne called Murray and they spoke again. Still, the interest on the part of the 12-year St. Peter’s coach still wasn’t there.

Murray moved on again, to the point where he settled on Beilein.

“As was rumored, I did offer a candidate the job,” Murray said, without specifically mentioning Beilein, which was first reported by HVSR.

After being rejected by the son of University of Michigan coach John Beilein, Murray headed to San Antonio for the Final Four to talk to several other potential candidates.

He left on Sunday to fly back to Newark-Liberty International Airport for a scheduled 7 p.m. meeting with Marist president David Yellen. Murray had a second candidate he had settled on and was to speak with the school president about his selection before making an offer.

Murray declined to name the coach he was going to make an offer. It never got that far anyway.

When Murray’s flight landed, he checked his cell phone for messages.

One was from Dunne.

Murray and Dunne talked on the phone for Murray’s entire two-hour ride back to campus. The athletic director then spoke to Yellen to apprise him of the situation, and Murray and Dunne spoke again on Monday.

Armed with Yellen signing off on making an offer to Dunne, Murray called the St. Peter’s coach later on Monday. Dunne accepted.

Dunne could not be reached for comment on Tuesday – he is scheduled to appear on the Marist campus on Thursday morning for a press conference – but Murray said it was less about money for Dunne than a feeling of security. Despite a 153-225 overall record at St. Peter’s, Dunne had great job security.

“John will certainly address this (on Thursday) but I think for him it was more family than it was basketball,” Murray said. “He has a wife and two children. I think it was a matter of the family of getting to a comfort level with such a big move.”

Murray declined to say how many years Dunne’s contract was for, or his salary. Dunne made approximately $230,000 annually at St. Peter’s. Marist paid Maker $255,000. Sources say the offer to Dunne was in the $275,000-$300,000 range.

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