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Al Skinner will not be on the Eagles sideline next season, closing the book on the most successful basketball coach in the program’s history. Skinner compiled a 247-165 record with the Eagles and now holds a 385-291 record overall in his coaching career, spanning 22 seasons with a stop at Rhode Island prior to BC. He took the Eagles to seven NCAA tournaments and coached a number of NBA players including Troy Bell, Sean Williams, Jared Dudley, and Craig Smith.
Skinner, who was under contract for three more seasons, will get a $3 million buyout and had agreed with the school to leave last week. BC agreed to keep the agreement quiet to facilitate Coach Skinner’s search for another job, including last week’s interview with St. John’s. BC has asked for permission to talk to Richmond coach Chris Mooney and Cornell coach Steve Donahue. Richmond lost their tournament opener to St. Mary’s and Cornell ran to the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Kentucky. Harvard coach Tommy Amaker and Northeastern’s Billy Coen also could be targeted to fill the void.
While his teams may have been successful more often than not, it was Skinner’s feeling that he was not a marketer of the program that ultimately cost him his job in Chestnut Hill. He was open about not worrying about the low attendance or going head to head with the pro teams in a city where they are king. Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo will be looking for a coach who can bring more buzz to the program and the university.
Skinner was lauded for his turnaround of the Eagle basketball program after Jim O’Brien left for Ohio State due to academic issues. BC was left with only six scholarships, but in four years Skinner led the Eagles to the Big East title and won league and AP Coach of the Year Honors. He also won the Big East Coach of the Year award in 2005. Skinner was in place when the Eagles transitioned to the ACC. The Eagles finished a surprising third in the first season and advanced to the ACC Championship game. The Eagles made seven NCAA appearances, going 6-7 in those tournament games. They advanced to the 2006 Sweet Sixteen. The Eagles also made the 2003 NIT, dropping their first round game.
The Eagles used a pretty shallow rotation this season, when they finished 15-16 and 6-10 in the ACC. They leave behind five seniors and junior Reggie Jackson. Pat Duquette will be the interim head coach.
Al Skinner played his college ball at the University of Massachusetts where he played one season with Julius Erving and also shared the floor with Rick Pitino. He was the team’s leading rebounder his final three seasons and also led the squad in scoring in the final two. He averaged 18.8 ppg and 11.0 rpg his senior year, one in which he led the Yankee Conference in scoring. He was drafted by the Celtics, but chose to play with Dr. J and the Nets in the ABA where they won a championship. He also played with the Pistons and 76ers in a seven year professional career.