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Boston College Director of Athletics Brad Bates announced on Tuesday that head coach Steve Donahue will not return for the final year of his contract as the Eagles’ head coach. BC was 54-76 in four years under Donahue and failed to make the NCAA Tournament once after doing so seven times between 2001 and 2009.
The Eagles are coming off a very rough season, going 8-24 with a 4-14 record in Atlantic Coast Conference play and losing to Georgia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament. BC did, however, make headlines for its upset of then-undefeated Syracuse on February 19, the lone bright spot in the 2013-14 season.
Donahue was hired prior to the 2010-11 season, following 10 years as head coach at Cornell, where he guided the Big Red to three consecutive Ivy League titles from 2008 to 2010, reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 2010, the program’s most successful season ever. His first year in Chestnut Hill was his best, as the Eagles went 21-13 but were snubbed by the Tournament’s selection committee, eventually falling in the NIT’s second round.
After a 9-22 record in 2011-12, the program seemed to rebound, going 16-17 the following year, but Donahue was finally let go after a season in which 15 of the Eagles’ 24 losses came by 10 points or less. An earlier report by Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated had said that Donahue would, in fact, be back to finish out his contract. BC will have most, if not all, of its key players back as well as a much more favorable schedule than this year’s, which was considered overly ambitious.
Bates said that the search for a new head coach will begin immediately. “In the next 24 hours we are going to begin a needs-assessment for the program,” he said, before adding that “this is a long-term decision.” Multiple reports already have another Ivy Leaguer, Tommy Amaker of Harvard, as the leading candidate to replace Donahue. Amaker and the Crimson will begin their third straight NCAA Tournament run on Thursday against Cincinnati.
On Tuesday Bates also spoke about the possible departure of guard Olivier Hanlan to the NBA, making it clear that no decision has been made yet. Hanlan led the team with 18.5 points per game this year, including a 38-point performance in a win over Florida Atlantic on November 17, and only failed to score in double digits twice all season while shooting 45.7% from the floor. However, the consensus at this early stage seems to be that Hanlan is no lock for the first round of the Draft, which could prompt him to return to Boston College for his junior year.