Mark Amatucci has enjoyed his two years transforming the Anne Arundel Community College basketball team into a national junior-college power, but that never has suppressed his desire to return to coaching at the top level.
"I'm very happy here at Anne Arundel, and we're had great success," Amatucci said yesterday. "But a Division I opportunity is something I'd have to take a serious look at."
Amatucci, a former coach at Loyola College, may be facing that situation next week when St. Francis (N.Y.) College begins narrowing its search for a new basketball coach.
"He was one of 12 guys that we interviewed for the job," said Sam Carrington, assistant athletic director at St. Francis. "We may decide as early as Monday when our athletic director [Carlo Tramontozzi] comes back from vacation."
St. Francis contacted Amatucci about the job. It may help that the former coach, Rich Zvosec, was an assistant under Amatucci at Loyola (1985-88). Zvosec left St. Francis to take the coaching job at North Florida College (Division II) in Jacksonville. He was at St. Francis for three seasons.
"It's a Division I job, and it's in a conference I'm very familiar with," said Amatucci, referring to the Northeast Conference, in which Loyola played when he coached there. "They're coming off a very good season, and the prospect for success would be very good. Also, it's a small, private, Catholic institution, which is attractive to me."
The interview at St. Francis comes at a time when the school's basketball team and women's soccer team face being banned from postseason play for one year for allowing the participation of academically ineligible players. The school reported the infractions to the National Junior College Athletic Association. The NJCAA has yet to make a decision, but a school spokeswoman said Wednesday that the school has received an "unofficial" letter referring to the possible probation.
"That's not the reason I've been looking into St. Francis," Amatucci said. "I want to stay in coaching and I want to be a full-time coach on the Division I level."
Amatucci, previously a high school coach at Calvert Hall, led the Anne Arundel basketball team to a 29-5 record last season.