Vulcans plan to fill men’s hoops coaching position by June 1


The University of Hawaii at Hilo has posted its open men’s basketball coaching job and will accept applications until April 19. A new coach is expected to be on board by June 1.

Earlier this month, UH-Hilo Athletic Director Dexter Irvin announced that veteran men’s coach Jeff Law was not returning and had accepted a similar position at Western New Mexico University. Law had been the Vulcans’ coach for 15 years and worked under Irvin the past three years.

A job description and responsibilities for the men’s basketball coach appear in the ad, which is posted on the UH-Hilo website. There is no salary listed, but the range is believed to be between $60,000 to $85,000 a year, based on similar NCAA Division II jobs around the country.

The vacancy has created a buzz, and the UH-Hilo athletic department has received numerous inquiries about the job. The position was last open in 1998, when the university received about 100 applications and then-AD Bill Trumbo hired Law. A similar number may apply this time around.

In the PacWest, Notre Dame de Namur head coach George Puou has Hawaii ties, and he built a solid program in his 12 years at the Belmont, Calif., university. NDNU, unlike most PacWest schools including UH-Hilo, does not offer athletic scholarships.

Puou was an all-state player at Kailua High School on Oahu and went on to become a standout at San Jose State in the mid-1980s. He then played professionally in Japan.

Puou was an assistant coach at Division I St. Mary’s in Moraga, Calif., before taking over at NDNU.

Puou has also recruited some Hawaii players over the years at NDNU, including former Honokaa/Academy of the Pacific guard Micah Dunhour. The 6-foot-6 sophomore started for the Argonauts this past season.

Irvin has not released names of interested coaches or their backgrounds. A five-person selection committee will review the applications, interview the finalists, rank the candidates and present the list to Irvin, who will make a hiring recommendation to the UH-Hilo chancellor for final approval.

Zac Zepponi, who was an assistant to Law this past season, is handling the program on an interim basis and plans to apply for the job.

Five players on Law’s 2012-13 roster have eligibility remaining: juniors Derek Owens, Lucas Swanson, Brandon Thomas and Oxone-Ross Mavungu, and sophomore Mika Wong.

Law had been recruiting for UH-Hilo, but Irvin has placed that on hold. In the meantime, Zepponi is evaluating but not signing prospects.

If UH-Hilo does not sign any recruits before the new coach comes on board June 1, the coach may have an even bigger job filling out his squad for his first season. Most recruits sign National Letters of Intent in April, meaning there is usually less talent available later on. However, if UH-Hilo hires a junior college coach, there’s a good chance he could bring along some of his own players.

During his tenure, Law relied heavily on junior college transfers to sustain his program.

The Vulcans were 6-19 overall and 4-13 in the PacWest Conference last season. In his 15 seasons, Law compiled a 209-186 record, ranking him second on the all-time UH-Hilo list in wins behind Jimmy Yagi (218-87, nine seasons).