Friar Basketball

Ed Cooley Speaks on Conference Realignment


So much for a quiet exam period.  With the 7-2 Friars set to return to the court Tuesday, the lead story in Providence this weekend figured to be the debuts of McDonald’s All American Kris Dunn and Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson, but that quickly changed when word spread last week that the seven basketball-only schools were planning on breaking away from the conference.

After nearly a decade of having their future determined for them by football schools, the seven reached a breaking point this winter and officially announced their plan to start anew on Saturday.  That breaking point may have been the additions of Tulane and East Carolina this fall, but whatever the reason for departing, this move figures to provide a measure of stability that Providence hasn’t had in years.

It’s a move that head coach Ed Cooley favors, “I’m excited about the opportunity.  It’s unfortunate that football has taken such a dominant personality over the past five or six years.  I’ve been fortunate to work at a couple of great basketball schools, and that’s all I care about.

I’m just excited that we’re past all of the questions about what league we’re going to be in.  Football had its day and now it’s time for us to have ours.”

While there are still a number of questions to be answered (What happens with the lucrative NCAA Tournament units?Where does this new conference play their conference tournament?  Who will be the commissioner?  Who else will join?  How big will it be?  Who keeps the Big East name?), this is a move that Providence fans have roundly applauded, as it appeared from the outside that the basketball-only schools were destined to watch conference realignment from the sideline.

Their destiny changed on Saturday.

How this move works financially for the basketball-only schools is to be determined, but as Cooley told Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal when asked after practice on Saturday, he believes a basketball-focused conference has its recruiting advantages, “It’s definitely going to help us.  Players are going to come knowing they are going to be the focal point of an athletic program versus being second fiddle to football.”

While news of the split filtered out this weekend, McNamara reported that Providence is working with Cooley on a contract extension. The head coach has re-energized the fan base with his energy and recruiting prowess, and has brought something to this program that the school hopes to have with their new conference alignment – stability.

Cooley is the perfect fit at Providence at a time when the school needs him the most.

“It’s a place I want to be for a very long time and I’m grateful for Father Shanley and Bob Driscoll as we work things out.  It’s the only place I want to be.”

He continued, “Providence College is committed for the long haul.  We’ve got to continue to show growth and progress and that’s something that Father Shanley, Bob and myself continue to talk about.”


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