Originally created 05/02/04

Jaguars start searching for coach



Augusta State's search for a new men's basketball coach takes full effect this week.

The school will hold interviews Monday through Thursday - one a day - for each of the four candidates for the position vacated by seven-year coach Gary Tuell. The candidates will go through a screening process, where each man will visit on campus with Augusta State faculty and staff, including president William A. Bloodworth Jr., one community person and one player.

Athletic director Clint Bryant said a decision is expected to be reached within the next 10 days.

"There are a lot of people qualified to coach college basketball," Bryant said. "I'm basically looking for a fit. You don't find that out till they come to campus and visit."

Bryant and his screening committee will look at four candidates: Jaguars assistant Buck Harris, former Aiken Tech head coach Charles Welch, Belmont Abbey head coach Dip Metress and former Campbell coach Billy Lee.

  • Harris played for Bryant from 1990-92 and has been the Jaguars' assistant since 1995. He is the lone candidate without head coaching experience.
  • "It's Buck's time," said Tuell, who left Friday to become the head coach at Nova Southeastern. "One of the reasons I feel comfortable about leaving is Buck's ready to be the head coach."

  • Metress served as a graduate assistant under Bryant and earned a Masters of Education in Supervision and Administration degree from Augusta State in 1992. During the past eight seasons at Belmont Abbey, Metress has led the Crusaders to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
  • Metress, whose wife, Heather, hails from Lincolnton, Ga., kept his Augusta ties by playing Paine College the past few seasons. In Belmont Abbey's last appearance against Augusta State, Metress and Tuell got into a heated exchange after a late foul in a Jaguar win in December 2002.

  • Welch is an Augusta native who currently teaches at Aiken Tech. He led the NJCAA Division I team to a 29-4 record this past season. He resigned in March after leading the Knights to a 274-136 record in 13 seasons.
  • Lee coached against Bryant for three seasons in 1988-91 when Augusta State was a Division I program in the Big South Conference. Lee went 216-286 in 18 seasons with Campbell.
  • Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.