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Hall of Famer Morgan Wootten endorses Duquesne's Ron Everhart, who will interview this week for PSU job
May 29, 2011 - Cory Giger
Legendary high school basketball coach Morgan Wootten believes one of his proteges, Ron Everhart, would be a perfect fit as Penn State's new coach.
"I think it would be one of the great marriages ever made, I really mean that," Wootten said Sunday evening. "I can't say enough great things about Ron Everhart."
The Duquesne head coach is on PSU's radar and is scheduled to interview for the job early this week, sources confirmed to the Mirror on Sunday.
Everhart played at DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland for Wootten, whose 1,274-192 record in 46 years made him the most successful high school coach in history.
"I've had over 21 of my former players become Division I head coaches," Wootten said, "and I would rank Ron Everhart right there with the very best of them, no question."
Everhart is one of the names that has appeared on most lists of potential candidates at Penn State, along with Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Rob Jeter, Drexel's Bruiser Flint and Boston's Pat Chambers, among others.
Everhart turned around a Duquesne program that won just three games the year before he arrived and has gone 83-74 there in five seasons. The 49-year-old also coached seven years at McNeese State (92-104) and five years at Northeastern (82-68).
"He goes to Duquesne, which couldn't beat anybody in years, and wins over 20 games there," Wootten said.
Wootten also said he would love to see Penn State basketball make the right hire and be successful.
"I'm a Penn State fan and have known Joe Paterno my entire career," Wootten said. "I would love to see [Everhart] there because I just know the job he would do.
"He's the total package. He knows the game, he can teach the game, he can attract players that want to play for him, and he can represent the university with nothing but style and class."
Wootten, who retired in 2002 and is one of only three high school coaches in the Basketball Hall of Fame, said he left a message with PSU athletic director Tim Curley on Everhart's behalf. The coach also praised Everhart's recruiting skills and contacts throughout the mid-Atlantic.
Duquesne, which went 19-13 this past season, has players from Queens, Brooklyn and Detroit on the roster who were recruited by Everhart.
One potential obstacle to the PSU job for Everhart is a recruiting violation that occurred under his watch at Northeastern. The NCAA found a university representative had violated rules by purchasing a plane ticket for recruit Benson Egemonye to visit the United States from Nigeria in 2004, and the recruit also was given use of a university calling card.
Northeastern was placed on probation and had scholarships reduced in 2009, after Everhart had already been at Duquesne for three years.
Everhart certainly will have to explain his side of that story when he meets with Penn State officials, and it remains to be seen if that will hurt his chances.
Duquesne won 11 games in a row in the middle of this past season but struggled at the end, losing six of its final eight regular-season games and falling to St. Joseph's in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Duquesne athletic director Greg Amodio reportedly wasn't happy with the late slide, but given how far the program has come under Everhart, the school can't complain too much.
Everhart may have some baggage, but he has shown an ability to recruit and turn programs around in a hurry.
Those should be two of the most important aspects Penn State considers during the hiring process.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.