Reports: La Salle tabs Giannini; Philadelphia school will announce hiring today

This story was published on Aug. 23, 2004 on Page C1 in all editions of the Bangor Daily News

Given a second chance, La Salle University appears to have gotten its man.

University of Maine men’s basketball head coach John Giannini will accept the vacant head coaching position at La Salle, according to published reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer as well as TV and radio broadcasts out of Philadelphia.

The 42-year-old Giannini, who interviewed for the same position with the Explorers in 2001, is expected to be introduced as La Salle’s new men’s coach at a 3 p.m. press conference Monday in Philadelphia.

Giannini refused to offer any comment on the reports.

“At this time, our official stance is no comment. At the appropriate time, we will address the situation,” said Brent Williamson, UMaine assistant athletic director for public relations.

La Salle officials have been searching for a coach to succeed Billy Hahn since July 24, when Hahn resigned after it was alleged that he did not report a sexual assault by one of his players. At the top of the Explorers’ list was Pennsylvania coach Fran Dunphy, an alumnus and favorite son at the college, but Dunphy turned down numerous offers and La Salle officials turned to Giannini, one of four America East coaches on their candidates list.

Giannini has compiled a 293-149 record in 15 seasons as a head coach (seven at Rowan College, eight at Maine) while leading Rowan to an NCAA Division III national championship (1995-96) and Maine to its only two 20-win seasons and two America East runner-up finishes. He has notched the most wins among AE coaches over the last six seasons with 107. At Maine, Giannini has compiled the best winning percentage (.530) in program history with a 125-111 record.

The Chicago native and North Central College graduate is coming off a season in which Maine went 20-10 and lost to defending champion Vermont in the AE championship game.

The 19th coach in the Maine men’s program history led the Bears to their best season in 1999-2000, when Maine went 24-7 and lost in the AE semifinals, which Maine has advanced to in five of the last six seasons.

Giannini’s departure comes 46 days before Maine’s Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage (Oct. 28) and 60 days before its season-opening game against the University of Massachusetts Lowell (Nov. 11).