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Coach Candidate: John Becker’s New England success could bring him to Boston College

A mid-major head coach with lots of wins at Vermont

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round- Florida State vs Vermont David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Coach John Becker of the Vermont Catamounts is another semi-local guy that has been listed as a possibility for Boston College to target as their next men’s head basketball coach. As UVM’s coach for the last decade, Becker has brought the Catamounts to 3 NCAA tournaments and 2 NIT appearances, with one NCAA possibility washed away due to COVID and another one potentially on the horizon this season. His consistent success at a New England university could be a boon to a Boston College program that has struggled to keep pace with local rivals.

John Becker has been the Catamounts’ coach since 2011, posting a 228-94 (.708) overall record and a 130-26 (.833) conference record in America East. He was previously an assistant at Vermont and jumped between a few schools before he found himself in Burlington. The 52-year-old Becker is a Connecticut native with some old ties to the Washington DC area, but has spent most of his career at Vermont.

Why he’d be interested:

Despite his consistent success and NCAA tournament berths that come fairly often at UVM, there is a certain limit to success that comes with a program like that. Realistically the furthest Becker will take that team is to the second round of the Dance, maybe the Sweet 16 in a truly magical season. But for a coach who still has plenty of career left, the opportunity to join an ACC program, build it in his own vision, and eventually have a much higher ceiling for success could be alluring. Not to mention his base salary is only $275,000. He’d be making a lot more money at BC and would be able to compete at a higher level in the long run.

Why it could work:

Vermont’s men’s basketball program was already pretty successful when he took over, but Becker took it to even greater heights. Previous coaches did a fairly good job and reached the postseason every so often, but Becker has this Vermont squad threatening to win its conference and make the tournament every year. He’s won the America East regular season title the past 4 years in a row, including 2 conference tournament wins, and shows no sign of slowing down. He’s also been routinely complimented on his knack for player development, as unheralded recruits have often shone brighter than most other players in their conference. Boston College needs a coach who can utilize the local recruiting landscape and pump out consistent success like that. With even greater resources in Chestnut Hill rather than Burlington, Becker could truly shine.

Why it could flop:

The competition in America East isn’t exactly very tough, and the Vermont program he took over was already somewhat successful, so Becker’s trajectory could possibly be inflated. Vermont basketball certainly has been elevated under Becker, but they were still occasionally contending for conference championships before him and would routinely finish in the top half of the conference. Vermont was a program Becker could elevate from moderate success, while BC lacks recent success of any kind. He would be starting a rebuild from the bottom-up without the same kind of goodwill left behind by a previous coach.

It should also be noted that Becker was head coach of Vermont men’s basketball during a sexual assault scandal involving one of his players. The UVM swimmer, who accused Becker’s player of rape, has joined a lawsuit comprised of athletes suing the NCAA for a failure to protect them from sexual assault. She alleges that she was misled by the UVM administration into pursuing an informal investigation, which she learned later meant the men’s basketball player would not be suspended from playing.

The player’s name was never revealed, and it’s unclear how much of the mismanaged situation was influenced by higher-ups in the Athletics department and UVM’s administration versus leaders in the basketball program. But the fact that this happened, and the unnamed player presumably continued to play at UVM, does bring into question Becker’s leadership, integrity, ethics, and the kind of program he runs.

How likely is this hire?

I could see it happening. He is one of the more successful candidates that could find themselves on BC’s list, and one who could be more likely to jump ship from their current program. His recruitment ties to the New England area, over other candidates like Porter Moser (Midwest ties) or Howard Eisley (little recruiting experience whatsoever), would also be seen as a bonus to Boston College’s decisionmakers. Assuming Becker is interested in the job, I would put him in my top 3 likeliest hires.