Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Letter to the Editor: Owls Basketball Coach Out the Door

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Is this a re-run of a bad movie? Do you feel like this annoying nightmare keeps haunting your sleep, and every time you wake up and think it’s over, it returns the next night? Well it is now 2008, and Florida Atlantic University is searching for yet another Men’s Basketball coach. This hiring will be the fourth coach to lead our round ball Owls in the past five years.

At least football has the Ole Coach Schnellenberger, right? Baseball has had the same coach for 21 years – and plenty of success to go along with it. Softball has ripped apart the Atlantic Sun and Sun Belt in the past decade under Coach Joyce. She’s been coaching here before the university even opened, right? So why hasn’t basketball retained a coach for longer than two years?

Our past two coaches have been “big, national names” who were never truly happy coaching at Florida Atlantic University. What do I mean by this? Remember that old mantra that used to go along with our university, “F-A-Who?” Well our past two basketball coaches, Matt Doherty and Rex Walters, were graduates of the University of North Carolina and University of Kansas, respectively. Yeah, two of the most successful basketball schools in the history of college basketball. Matt Doherty coached at his alma mater and was so successful that he won the National Coach of the Year Award in 2001. Rex Walters is regarded as one of the greatest athletes ever at Kansas. He played in the 1993 Final Four for the Jayhawks. Needless to say, Doherty and Walters are accustomed to the “finer things in college basketball.” Sold-out, glamorous, massive arenas with ESPN crews hovering over their every move; that fits the lifestyle of Doherty and Walters.

Now you tell me: did Doherty or Walters ever seem to be a good fit at Florida Atlantic? That answer is obvious; so obvious that we learned the hard way when Doherty bolted after ONE year and Walters left after TWO years.

So here we go: back to square one. Our Athletic Director, Craig Angelos, is looking for yet another basketball coach to lead our Owls. Thankfully, Angelos does not have to look far at all! The man to replace Rex Walters has an office right next to Walters’ old one! The top assistant for the past three years for FAU has been a man by the name of Mike Balado. This is a man I have worked under for the past two years and he is the man for this job at this time in our university’s history. Balado is a native South Floridian, born and raised in the beautiful climate of Miami.

How are these for South Florida credentials? Balado has had ONE job for only TWO years outside of the South Florida area. Other than 1998-2000 being in Georgia, Balado has dedicated his professional career thus far to the tri-county area of South Florida high school and college basketball. He has worked at FAU for three years under Doherty and Walters and has been instrumental in recruiting a vast majority of the current athletes on our basketball team. With a native tongue of Spanish, his Hispanic background gives him the essential cultural leverage to recruit the top athletes in our diverse area. It is a no-brainer to see why Matt Doherty hired Balado in 2005 to assist him at FAU. Balado is an unbelievable “South Florida connection.”

However, out of the list you just read, his impeccable morals, his leadership qualities, and his humble personality, the best reason for Balado’s candidacy is something I have not yet touched upon. As a student at FAU and writing to you, my fellow students, the biggest reason I want Mike Balado coaching my school’s basketball team is his personal connection to FAU. Mike Balado genuinely cares about Florida Atlantic University. After sitting with him and talking to him about what the job means to him, I know whole-heartedly that Balado wants THIS job – not just any Division I college basketball job. He wants to build a winner at our school; he wants to become the coach of Florida Atlantic and enjoy the opportunity to be a part of a growing school and program. He is not looking for the next step in his career, like his two predecessors.

Doherty and Walters were constantly looking for that next job; Balado wants THIS job. Is it a coincidence that Mike Balado was the only basketball coach the past three years to show up at FAU football and baseball games? While Doherty and Walters were looking for their next jobs, Balado was supporting FAU athletics!

With the success of our baseball and softball and football programs here at FAU, this mind-set for a head coach is so critical. It is no secret that our athletics program is not going to go anywhere without a successful basketball program to complement the other sports.

We need STABILITY and CONTINUITY and COHESIVENESS. Mike Balado represents everything we need in a head coach of our truly unique university.

I am asking for your help, fellow students. Please contact me and I can tell you everything Balado needs from you. The students have began an online petition and your signature would be greatly appreciated.

Also: E-mail Craig Angelos. E-mail Frank Brogan. Speak out at baseball games about Mike Balado. Show your support for OUR man.

Coach Balado put it best when I asked him about his candidacy for this job: “A hometown team needs a hometown man!” Mike Balado is OUR man.

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