The job has drawn more interest than any other coaching position at Augusta State. And later this week, athletic director Clint Bryant hopes to have the vacant head women's basketball job filled.
Augusta State received 278 resumes for the position, which was listed in January, one month after Bryant relieved second-year coach Tes Sobomehin of her duties.
Sobomehin, who took the reins a year after former coach Greg Wilson led the Lady Jaguars to a share of the Peach Belt Conference regular-season title and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament, compiled a 6-32 record in her brief tenure.
Bryant took over the program on an interim basis, reassigning Sobomehin within the university. Augusta State finished last in the Peach Belt Conference at 0-18 and was 1-26 overall.
Bryant said he did not want to reveal the names of the finalists for the position because they are employed elsewhere, but it's believed Carson-Newman's Dean Walsh and former Armstrong Atlantic State coach Roger Hodge, a current East Carolina assistant women's coach, are among the final five.
Walsh, a two-time region coach of the year, led the Lady Eagles to a 24-7 record and the second round of the Division II Tournament. Hodge went 138-97 in eight seasons with the Lady Pirates and led his squad to consecutive Division II Tournament berths.
Bryant said he hopes to have a coach named no later than Thursday.
"I'm very pleased with the pool of candidates," he said. "Now it's time to find the right fit."
Bryant said he's looking for someone who has head coaching experience and familiarity with the surrounding area in regards to recruiting. He said Augusta State men's coach Dip Metress has proven how important recruiting is to becoming an elite program.
"It's all about being able to recruit talent," Bryant said.
Bryant has been recruiting players this year, and the school also held a tryout for 20 players. Bryant, who said the new coach will receive a file folder with a list of prospects, said he hopes his work will help ease the burden for the new coach, who will start immediately.
"Whoever the coach is," he said, "will have to come in and hit the ground running."