While I am in agreement with the rest of the BCI bloggers that the retirement of Gene DeFilippo is a good thing for the athletic department as a whole, it's worth considering how it will impact basketball specifically. You could argue that GDF's most recent positive move was managing to snag head coach Steve Donahue from Cornell. From my experience with the basketball program over the past two seasons, I can confidently say that I believe Donahue is the right man for the job. He's a great basketball mind and has done solid job attracting his kind of players to the program. Obviously, the team remains a work in progress, but it appears to be on the right track.
I have no problem giving GDF credit for hiring Donahue, who was the National Coach of the Year at the time. Does that mean I think the program suffers in GDF's absence? Not at all. Along with his passionate and motivational style of coaching, Donahue's best attribute is his patience. He knew what he signed up for when he took the job and every post game press conference is focused on how this one game (usually a loss) helps these kids grow as basketball players and develop the program for the future. My biggest fear was that GDF might start to feel heat from donors to produce results immediately and be unwilling to see the process through. Firing Donahue after half a season of disappointing basketball this coming winter would be the worst possible thing for Boston College basketball. I remain optimistic that the new athletic director will have the wisdom to see that this program is in a rebuilding process, but on the right track and in good hands.
The other big concern with the basketball program is the abysmal attendance numbers, particularly from students. While there was the occasional promotion or free game for students, GDF's regime didn't seem too concerned with building up the basketball program, even among the student body. With Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the ACC in coming years, BC basketball has the chance to be a nice draw. A couple NCAA tournament appearances and rivalry games with ACC foes that are within a reasonable geographical proximity should help, but it's up to the school and athletic director to help build it. Look at Donahue's Disciples, for example. It's a group that is entirely student run and while it had some interaction with coach Donahue and the team, the resources of the school could make it that much bigger and better. I understand the sentiment that once the team starts winning, people will be more willing to go to games. But then again, look at the football team. If you make the games something of a social event -- students will go.
Ultimately, the basketball program needs a lot of work. Fortunately, we have a coach that cares and is committed to building up the program and getting students involved. There are plenty of opportunities for a new athletic director to get involved with BC basketball and make the most of a program with lots of potential. Committing extra resources to develop it will likely pay off in the end.
So my advice to a new Boston College AD? Get involved. Be hands on. The hockey program doesn't need to be touched, so focus some energy on the basketball team. Just make sure that Steve Donahue is by your side -- he knows what he's doing.