NEWARK — Matt Robinson wasn’t still around to watch Villanova’s memorable national-championship win in person on Monday night.
The Delaware interim athletic director did make it back from Houston just in time for the start of the game, though.
“I got home and sat on the couch just as the opening tipoff went up,” said Robinson.
But Robinson returned from his trip to the men’s college basketball Final Four energized none the less.
With most of the sport’s coaches in Houston for the weekend, he went there to network with people about the Blue Hens’ head coaching vacancy.
Robinson said he made it clear that Delaware is sticking to its plan to wait until a permanent AD is hired before deciding on its new basketball coach. That means UD won’t have a head coach until May.
Robinson, though, said that somewhat-unorthodox approach didn’t seem to faze any potential candidates.
“Let’s put it this way,” he said. “The people that I spoke with, the timeline didn’t deter anyone from communicating that they would love to be a candidate for the position.”
Many people think Delaware is making a mistake by delaying the hiring because the next signing period for Division I basketball recruits is April 13-May 18.
Not only do the Hens have at least three scholarships to give out but it has players already in the program who are considering transferring.
Of the 46 Division I coaching openings this season, Delaware is one of only 12 that hasn’t already been filled. The school fired 10-year coach Monte’ Ross on March 18.
A few people have publicly expressed an interest in the UD job, including Notre Dame assistant Martin Ingelsby, who was actually recruited by former Delaware coach Mike Brey as a player. Brey, of course, is now Ingelsby’s boss with the Fighting Irish.
Former Blue Hen star Mike Pegues, now an assistant at Xavier, as well as one-time Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor have also said they’re interested. Another coach who was reported to be a potential Blue Hen candidate, Army coach Zach Spiker, was hired by Delaware’s conference rival, Drexel.
Robinson said the prospective UD coaches he’s talked to fell into three categories: Assistants looking for their first head coaching job. former head coaches wanting to get back in the game or current head coaches looking for a better opportunity.
“I was kind of surprised in a few people that expressed interest from that pool (of current head coaches) — pleasantly surprised, I should say,” said Robinson.
As for “up-and-coming” assistants, Robinson said “the biggest thing is making sure that they have experiences that prepare them to be the head (coach) — that they’ve been involved with all aspects of the program, that they’re an integral part of the game-planning and so forth during the season.”
Robinson said he also talked with some basketball people who aren’t directly connected with any candidates.
“They’re just saying here’s five or six guys that may not be on your radar but are worth putting on your radar,” said Robinson.
Of course, the thing to remember is that Robinson himself may not be directly involved in the decision-making process when it’s all said and done.
While he’s a candidate for the Delaware athletic director job, there’s no guarantee he’ll get the position.
In the meantime, Robinson said the Hens’ current players are still doing off-season conditioning. He’s asked them to be patient.
“When people ask, I tell them, that’s the timeline we’re going with,” he said. “Whoever’s the permanent AD, I think the basketball hire is an important one, and they should have a say in that.
“I’ve just tried to keep the players informed of where we are. In meeting with one this afternoon, I just said, ‘Hey look, the quality of the people who are interested is extremely exciting.’ The process is what it is.”