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Dooley eyeing possible ECU offer

NCAA Florida Gulf Coast Florida State Basketball
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Joe Dooley talks to his Florida Gulf Coast players during an NCAA tournament game against Florida State on March 17, 2017 in Orlando, Fla. FSU won 86-80. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

NCAA Florida Gulf Coast Florida State Basketball

The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

There is mutual interest between East Carolina and Florida Gulf Coast basketball coach Joe Dooley, and a deal to bring Dooley back to ECU could become a real possibility after FGCU is done with the NIT.

An ECU offer would need to be extended and both sides would have to agree on full details including recruiting and travel budgets, according to sources, for Dooley to return to ECU for his second stint after leading the Pirates for four seasons during the late-1990s.

An FGCU source said this week that Dooley would be ready to consider an East Carolina offer after the NIT and probably accept. The Eagles, who are nearing the end of their fifth straight 20-win season under Dooley, lost at Oklahoma State on Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT to finish 23-12.

Sources have indicated that ECU made initial contact with Dooley’s agent while previously surveying and checking with candidates. Dooley also has been linked to the Missouri State opening.

The Pirates were in a similar position with Dooley in 2010, but they were not able to finalize a deal.

ECU hired Jeff Lebo that year, and he was early in his eighth season when he resigned on Nov. 29, 2017. Michael Perry stepped in as interim coach and the team finished 10-20.

It is unclear exactly how the coaching search will be affected by Friday’s decision by the ECU board of trustees and athletics director Jeff Compher to end Compher’s tenure on May 1 via a contract buyout. Chancellor Cecil Staton said Friday that Compher will not be involved in the basketball coaching search moving forward and Staton’s hope was for a special council to be available to him this week.

Dooley went 57-52 at East Carolina from 1995-99, starting with consecutive 17-win campaigns. But after a 13-14 record in 1999 he was fired by then-Pirate AD Mike Hamrick.

The 52-year-old and West Orange, N.J., native became a trusted assistant coach nationally, highlighted by 10 seasons at Kansas under Bill Self.

The Naples Daily News reported that Dooley’s base salary at Florida Golf Coast for this season was $350,000. Lebo reportedly had a base salary of $500,000.

Former Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz also could be an ECU candidate, along with coaches who are in the NCAA tournament this week in Ryan Odom (Maryland-Baltimore County), Wes Miller (UNC Greensboro) and Earl Grant (College of Charleston).

Mark Gottfried, the former N.C. State and Alabama head man, was introduced Tuesday at Cal State Northridge.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.