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Gary Trent holds up his number 20 retired jersey to 13,000 fans in the Convocation Center saturday.

McDavis: Coaching search might include in-house candidates

Now that men’s basketball coach John Groce has officially accepted a coaching position at the University of Illinois, Ohio University administrators will soon begin a search to find a new person to lead the Bobcats.

OU President Roderick McDavis said the university is confident in its ability to attract strong candidates to the position.

“We believe that our program is well-positioned to attract a great deal of interest from potential coaches,” McDavis said. “If we have to have a search, we think we're going to do very well in terms of attracting top candidates for our job.

“(With) an appearance in the Sweet 16, our entire team returning next year, we think we have a lot to offer for a coach.”

Though the university has not revealed any potential candidates, McDavis said the university is open to considering assistant coaches within the program as well as those not currently associated with the program.

“(The) search could involve some of our assistant coaches. It could involve coaches from elsewhere,” McDavis said. “And certainly our athletics director would be leading the search for our basketball coach.”

One potential candidate might be Jeff Boals, an assistant coach at Ohio State. Boals played forward at Ohio during the Gary Trent days in the mid-1990s. Groce also was an assistant under Thad Matta at Ohio State before joining the Bobcats.

And if Boals is selected, one Bobcat basketball great might be interested in joining his staff. Trent, the highest-drafted player in program history and the Mid-American Conference’s only three-time player of the year, indicated that he would be open to coaching for Boals if given the option.

“He is going to make a great head coach, and I’m going to make a great assistant coach for him,” Trent said.

Another possible candidate is Ohio assistant coach Dustin Ford. Ford was a four-year starter at Ohio from 1997 to 2001 and has been a mainstay on the Bobcats’ bench since Groce was hired in 2008. Ford’s hiring might help continuity for Ohio, which will return 100 percent of its minutes from last year barring any players’ deciding to transfer.

Pamela Engel contributed to this report.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this report misstated that Jeff Boals was a former Bobcat point guard. He was a forward.

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