Hofstra University's national arboretum campus was in full bloom Thursday on a perfect spring day with hardly a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the 60's. The setting was just as sunny inside David S. Mack Hall when university officials kicked off a new era of Hofstra men's basketball with a press conference unveiling its new head coach Tim Welsh.
There was a feeling of immense optimism inside Mack Hall as the former Providence and Iona head coach was introduced to the Hofstra community for the first time just one week after longtime head coach Tom Pecora accepted a head coaching position at Fordham. While coaching at the Big East level from 1998-2008 Welsh, 49, led Providence to two NCAA Tournament appearances and developed Ryan Golmes, who now plays for the
In addition to his 13 years of head coaching experience Welsh also gained valuable knowledge of what it takes to succeed as a college basketball program as an assistant at Syracuse from 1988-1991 under the legendary Jim Boeheim. "It is a great day for Hofstra athletics because this marks our hiring of Tim Welsh, who I truly believe will enable us to move our basketball success to the next level," said Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz during the press conference.
During his decade spent coaching in the Big East with Providence Welsh fostered many longstanding relationships with the conference's head coaches and he is hoping to utilize these connections to schedule some formidable opponents for the Pride. Welsh also emphasized during the press conference the important contacts he made at ESPN the last two years working as a college basketball analyst and how that could help get Hofstra some more nationally televised games. He said there is already interest in having Hofstra participate in one of the games for ESPN's annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon held each November.
"We want to put Hofstra map and get that national exposure," he said.
Welsh said after the press conference that he has been longtime friends with Pecora and plans to have lunch with him at the Final Four in Indianapolis this weekend to discuss making the transition for the current Pride players as smooth as possible. "He's a friend of mine but he's also a better friend of the school and the program and the kids," said Welsh. "He cares about the kids and myself personally."
Welsh held meetings with the Hofstra players who were not away on spring break both before and after the press conference. Once the former Providence head coach gets settled on Long Island after relocating from his East Greenwich, R.I home he wants to begin the process of achieving a comfort level with his new players. "The short-term goals with the players first is building a trust with them and that can't be done over night," he said. "That takes a lot of interaction, not only on the court and them seeing that I want to make them a better player, but off the court."
Hofstra guard Charles Jenkins said after the press conference that he is looking forward to playing Welsh's uptempo style offense during his senior season that he hopes end in a bid to the NCAA Tournament. "I'm looking forward to adjusting to his system," said Jenkins, who won Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year honors as a junior this past season. "He is a coach I look forward to playing for."
Prior to hiring Welsh Hofstra athletic director Jack Hayes consulted with former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, who was hired by the university to assist in the development for the school's athletics program. Hayes also had contact during the coaching search with some of college basketball's top current head coaches including Billy Donovan of Florida, Jay Wright of Villanova, (Hofstra's men's basketball coach from 1994-2001) and Bob McKillop of Davidson (a 1972 Hofstra alum).
"I know Tim will continue the great tradition that Tom has instilled," said Coach Wright in a statement. "This is a perfect match of an outstanding coach, recruiter and motivator with a great basketball program and university."