Coming off a second straight respectable showing in the NCAA tournament, the coaching stock of Towson State's Terry Truax has never been higher. In the coming weeks, he could discover exactly how high it is.
More than a dozen of the nation's Division I basketball teams are in the market for a coach, and Truax said yesterday he is interested in several of the available jobs. He hasn't formally applied elsewhere, but Truax said he wants to talk to officials at several colleges, especially Old Dominion and Virginia Tech.
"I just got in the office for the first time today [yesterday] since the NCAAs," Truax said. "There have been other things on my mind, but now that I've got the time, there are a couple of things I would like to look into.
"If I'm interested in a job, before making a formal application, the first thing I'm going to do is call the athletic director at that school. I'm trying to place a call to Virginia Tech. There are a couple of other places that interest me. Old Dominion appears to be a very attractive position.
"I have to see what's out there. Things have gotten better for me here, but how often do you get yourself into this position?"
Towson State lost to Ohio State 97-86 in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday, a year after throwing a similar scare into then No. 1 Oklahoma in the Tigers' first NCAA appearance. His eight-year record at Towson State is 109-126, but Truax's last three teams have gone 19-10, 18-13 and 19-11.
Truax was a finalist for a job at Austin Peay last summer, and athletic director Bill Hunter has told Truax to expect other colleges to call.
"I haven't been approached by anyone yet, but someone with Terry's success has to be a pretty interesting commodity," Hunter said. "He's taken a team that has been struggling for years and made them a perennial possibility for the East Coast Conference championship."
An increased salary is the main incentive for Truax. His coaching salary for this year was approximately $50,000, up from last year's $44,000. Hunter said Towson president Hoke L. Smith was "making an adjustment in Coach Truax's salary," but for now the Tigers coach remains among the nation's lowest-paid Division I coaches.
"That's a major consideration for me," Truax said. "My daughter Annie is 3, and my wife Pam [a flight attendant] left today on a three-day trip. I don't know why Maryland schools pay their coaches so low, and there is little opportunity for secondary income here. There's no TV show. We made about $7,500 off our camp last summer, but I split that with my assistants.
"I've been told the package at Old Dominion is over $150,000, with a base salary over $100,000."
Two former Old Dominion players have interviewed for the Monarchs' job, which an athletic department spokesman said would be filled by the end of the month. Dave Twardzik, scouting director for the Charlotte Hornets, was interviewed yesterday. Radford coach Oliver Purnell, a former ODU and Maryland assistant, was interviewed over the weekend.
The Norfolk, Va., school will leave the Sun Belt Conference this summer for the Colonial Athletic Association, where it will replace Navy.
"I like Old Dominion's location," Truax said, "and I like the fact they are going into a conference that they can be successful in. Virginia Tech could be an even better situation financially, but I don't know what's going to happen to the Metro Conference."
Truax isn't worried that speculation about his job prospects will scare high school seniors away from Towson State. The Tigers are in the running for several All-Metro players, including Dunbar guard Terrance Alexander, St. Frances-Charles Hall center Devin Gray and Walbrook center Stevie Thomas.