New North Texas athletic director Wren Baker vowed earlier this week to find a proven coach to take over the school’s once-proud men’s basketball program.
The goal is one ESPN analyst and former college coach Fran Fraschilla believes Baker can reach due to the program’s assets, including its location, the leadership now in place and the program’s history of success.
Baker is a former college basketball coach who had oversight of the programs at Missouri and Memphis earlier in his career as a college administrator. He took over as UNT’s athletic director last fall.
“I think Wren can get a head coach,” Fraschilla said. “There are some young head coaches out there who are proving that they can be successful and turn a program like North Texas around who will be interested. What North Texas has besides an athletic director with vision is a location in a recruiting hot bed.”
Fraschilla’s name came up in connection with the UNT job in 2012 after Johnny Jones left for LSU.
Fraschilla said he has no interest in getting back into coaching now. He served as the head coach at Manhattan, St. John’s and New Mexico before going into broadcasting.
While he is not interested in the position, Fraschilla expects UNT to field calls from coaches across the country.
“North Texas won before when Johnny Jones was there,” Fraschilla said. “Someone can use that program as a stepping stone like he did.”
UNT strung together six straight seasons with at least 18 wins and played in two NCAA tournaments in that span beginning in 2006-07 under Jones.
The program quickly fell apart under Tony Benford, who didn’t post a winning season in five years after replacing Jones. UNT finished last in Conference USA this season with a 2-16 record in league play and was just 8-22 overall.
Jacksonville State coach Ray Harper, UTA coach Scott Cross and Arkansas State coach Grant McCasland, a former Baylor assistant who grew up in Irving, are among the head coaches who could be of interest to UNT as it looks to rebuild.
UNT has hired the search firm Eastman & Beaudine to assist with its search. The firm helped Wichita State hire Gregg Marshall and Baylor hire Scott Drew. Both are considered among the elite coaches in college basketball.
“They can look at young head coaches who see North Texas as a sleeping giant,” Franchilla said. “If they can’t convince a young head coach to take the job, there will be good assistants at SEC- and Big 12-type programs who will be interested.”