Hallihan, Coomes say ‘No’ to NIU

By Jeff Kirik

Neither Jim Hallihan nor Mark Coomes will be the next NIU men’s basketball coach.

NIU Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell is expected to announce his choice for the spot by Friday, but Hallihan and Coomes, two of the six finalists, have withdrawn from the hunt. The position opened on March 8 when O’Dell informed three-year coach Jim Rosborough that his contract would not be renewed.

Hallihan, an assistant coach at Iowa State, said Wednesday that he called O’Dell on Tuesday to inform the NIU AD he was no longer interested in the position.

“I talked to (ISU) coach (Johnny) Orr and some other people and spent some time thinking about it,” Hallihan said. “I just don’t think it’s the best situation for me at this time.”

Callihan had visited NIU for an interview on Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, he told The Northern Star he was still interested in the job. However, he reconsidered and decided to withdraw on Tuesday night.

“I don’t know if I would have gotten the job. I don’t know if I was a finalist,” he said. “I was very interested in the job. I think it’s a very good situation with Clarence (Hudson) and Gerald there.”

Coomes, an assistant at Illinois, was hoping to return to NIU, where he served as an assistant coach from 1976-80. However, on Wednesday he too chose not to continue his quest to become the new NIU coach.

“I am not interested any longer in the basketball coaching position at Northern Illinois after careful consideration and being there over the weekend,” he said in a telephone interview. “I do not feel that it’s advantageous for me to pursue the job any further.

“I love the university, and the people in the community have been always unbelievably supportive to me. At this point in time I do not feel it would be a good match at Northern for my career. I want to thank everyone for their loyalty and hard work.”

DePaul assistant Jim Molinari, Wisconsin-Milwaukee head coach Steve Antrim, NIU interim head coach Robert Collins and Indiana assistant Joby Wright were the other applicants to make the final six. At Wednesday’s athletic board meeting, O’Dell said NIU’s 12-member screening committee had narrowed the field to three candidates. O’Dell did not say who those three were.

The NIU AD also said he met with NIU President John LaTourette to review the three finalists. O’Dell said he hoped to have the new coach picked by Thursday. A news conference is planned for Friday where the name of the new coach will be announced.