ATHLETIC VOICE: Men’s basketball head coaching situation botched by both sides

By James Kelley

Last spring was the best of times for Pima Community College men’s basketball and then the worst of times.

After nearly winning a national championship, the program was sucker-punched by its own head coach when Karl Pieroway unexpectedly quit. Pieroway then returned, but quit again.

Pieroway went from school hero to lower than the scary liquid that always seems to be on the floors of West Campus men’s rooms even though they are constantly cleaning it.

Now, Pieroway is a nice guy but his actions were atrocious.

People hate basketball superstar LeBron James, but James didn’t leave after calling the Cleveland Cavaliers to tell them he was coming back.

Pieroway did.

Nick Saban is the poster boy for coaching disloyalty in college and pro sports, but not even Saban didn’t leave after Louisiana State University and the Miami Dolphins fired people to get more money for his salary.

Pieroway did.

There may have been more people fired that they didn’t mention in a press release, but at least assistant athletic director Jerry Stitt was fired and athletic director Edgar Soto had to resign as baseball coach.

We don’t know for sure that the athletic department’s extreme makeover was to get more money for Pieroway. Coaches weren’t allowed to talk to us. One, who a few weeks earlier said he owed me a favor, wouldn’t even call me back on it in May.

But, it is pretty obvious. Sure the baseball team slumped the last couple of years, but why would Soto fire himself?

There may have been issues with the administration but, because Pieroway declined a chance to tell his story, I just have to assume the worst.

Speaking of Pima’s administration, they just plain mishandled the coaching search.

Never mind that the obvious choice, former University of Arizona and PCC assistant basketball coach Jim Rosborough wasn’t hired. The process used to hire new head coach Roderick Gary is what really grinds my gears.

In lots of ways, Gary seems like a great fit. He used to be an assistant coach for the Aztecs and still works at PCC. He wants Pima to be the county’s basketball team.

That clearly makes him a “Pima man,” especially important after Pima’s last coach went all runaway bride on the school.

Sounds great, but why did it take so long to hire him? Remember when the University of Arizona took maybe two weeks to hire Sean Miller and everyone freaked? Didn’t it take the University of Kentucky about a day to hire John Calipari?

Both the chancellor and Gary work in Pima’s district office complex. So then why was it so hard to find him?

Gary wasn’t hired until two months after Pieroway quit for the second time, losing precious recruiting time and momentum from the Aztecs’ great playoff run. That was in the summer too.

Worse yet, nobody told the players or kept them remotely in the loop. Even the college coaches with the least integrity tell their players they are leaving.

Players didn’t know when Pieroway was coming or going. One player asked me in July, “Um, what’s going on, do we have a coach yet?”

I had no idea, but sent him a published story that said Rosborough was interested in the job. We both assumed Rosborough would be hired.

Gary could very well return Pima to Nationals, maybe even this year, but it’s unfair to essentially make him start the game with a couple of fouls.

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