Two years later, door still closed for Hahn

Ex-Terps assistant wants to coach again

August 31, 2006|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,sun reporter

Five years ago, Billy Hahn was a hot commodity.

Now, he's confronted by the likelihood of a third straight season out of the game he loves.

Hahn spent nearly half of his 33 years in college basketball at Maryland, where he was a reserve guard on some great teams in the early 1970s and an assistant coach to Gary Williams from 1989 to 2001. After the Terps reached their first Final Four, in 2001, Hahn became the head coach at La Salle.

Two years ago, he was forced to resign in the wake of sexual assault charges against three of his players. Two were acquitted and charges against the third player were dropped, so Hahn is frustrated that he has been unable to secure another coaching job.

"I've accepted several offers from head coaches to be an assistant," Hahn said. "As it gets up the ladder, the coaches are asked, `Are there any other candidates?' Some administrators have discouraged coaches from hiring me. All my former assistants are employed. Everyone else's life has moved on. Unfortunately, mine hasn't."

After Gary Neal was acquitted of all charges by a jury, he was added to the Towson roster and was the fifth-leading scorer in the nation as a junior last season.

"There were no rapes at La Salle, and there never were," Hahn said. "That was all resolved last fall. Colleges aren't hiring coaches in November, so I knew I wouldn't get a job last season, but this is hard to stomach. I've been visible. I went to the Final Four, and I've done the AAU thing. I see people getting jobs, and I ask myself, `What's going on?' "

Saint Joseph's was one of the programs he had hoped to join, but Hawks coach Phil Martelli said it will be difficult for Hahn to get another job in Philadelphia.

"There was never a direct offer [to Hahn] that had to be rescinded," Martelli said. "I would never put him or the school in that situation. Saint Joe, Penn, Temple, Villanova, we've all had openings, but it's going to be very challenging for any school in Philadelphia to hire him. It's too close, for all the perception and reality. Whatever went on [at La Salle], it went on in Philadelphia, including the trial.

"Do I think Billy Hahn should still be a coach? I've told coaches outside this area that I feel strongly he should be in coaching."

Hahn, 53, has spent the summer working clinics and supervising individual workouts.

"I'm driving to the Poconos to do a clinic right now," Hahn said Tuesday. "I'm going to go out and share my ideas with a number of college programs this fall. The college coaches have limits on how many high school events they can attend, but I've seen more in the last year and a half than anyone. I know where all the young kids are. I just need a school, and I don't have one right now."

paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

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