By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – As Ole Miss seeks a return to women’s basketball success, there’s a coaching search for the second time in a year.
The requirements for the job remain the same, but the circumstances around it are very different.
Adrian Wiggins and two assistants were abruptly fired last October, weeks before Wiggins was to begin his first season as head coach.
Wiggins was not implicated amid charges of academic misconduct by his staff but was held accountable by new Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork.
Two junior college transfers who were expected to play significant roles on the 2012-2013 team were also dismissed.
A ban from this season’s SEC tournament and two scholarship cuts for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons were among the school’s self-imposed sanctions.
School officials hope there will be no additional sanctions from an ongoing NCAA investigation.
“We did such a good job of managing the situation, we’re hoping that when we get our notices there are no other questions that need to be answered,” said Lynette Johnson, the senior women’s athletics administrator.
The NCAA question is something the school is facing head-on in its coaching search, having prepared a portfolio with the improper actions and the school’s response.
“We tell them that we felt like we did our due diligence at the time of the situation,” Johnson said. “We feel very strongly that what we did was appropriate, and we hope they feel the same.”
Acting head coach Brett Frank, who led a depleted roster to a 9-20 overall mark, 2-14 in the SEC, has applied and will be given “full consideration,” Johnson said.
Others who were candidates when Wiggins were hired are being discussed again, as are candidates from the coaching search Bjork led at Western Kentucky just prior to accepting the Ole Miss job.
The new coach will have five scholarships to work with in the spring signing period.
The job was posted about a week and a half before the end of the season, which came on March 3 when the Rebels lost 93-52 at Arkansas.
The posting was just a reminder to possible candidates that Ole Miss had an opening. There was no communication with prospective coaches before the end of the season, Johnson said.
“We are very confident with the list of folks we’re pooling together,” Johnson said.
“We’re looking for all the same things we were looking for last year: a solid coach, integrity, a good person, someone who believes in what we believe in at Ole Miss and believes that we can be successful.”