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Krimmel’s task: Make SFU relevant

May 8, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
St. Francis Director of Athletics Bob Krimmel was on the Rob Egan radio show the other day, and he didn’t hide from the significance of the men’s basketball head coaching vacancy the school could be filling within the next week.

Krimmel said it’s an important hire for St. Francis, for the basketball program and “for the AD.”

Everyone who has dealt with Krimmel over the years, during his days as an assistant athletic director at Penn State and now in his capacity at St. Francis, knows he is a consummate professional and a great guy.

But that only will get him so many points.

ADs at the college level are judged on their high-profile hirings, and, to that end, St. Francis only has one high-profile sport, men’s basketball — and even that has been largely irrelevant since the early 1990s and generally since the 1970s.

Krimmel is surrounded by a committee, but he’s the one charged with this decision.

There is no set formula. There are plenty of candidates who can succeed and plenty who can fail.

The identified interviews include St. Joseph’s assistant Mark Bass, Baylor assistant Matt Driscoll, Lycoming coach and former Bucknell assistant Don Friday and Penn State assistant Kurt Kanaskie.

There are other intriguing candidates who, to this point, haven’t been brought in for interviews, such as UPJ coach Bob Rukavina and former St. Francis assistant Andy Helton, now an aide at South Alabama. Helton, who spent five years (1994-99) on Tom McConnell’s staff, has been part of a pair of NCAA Tournament teams the last two years with South Alabama and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Joe Lombardi, a former Flash and Pitt assistant and currently IUP’s head coach, would have been worth a call.

Kanaskie was very successful in Division II at Lock Haven and IUP, but he flopped badly in his previous Division I stop, at Drake, and Penn State hasn’t lit the world on fire with him on the bench.

But that doesn’t mean new surroundings can’t help him succeed — just as someone with a glittery resume isn’t a lock for success. Few had better credentials than Bobby Jones.

Is Kanaskie the frontrunner? Could be. People tend to hire familiarity, and Krimmel has already hired one former PSU coach in Robinson Fruchtl. If he taps Happy Valley again, though, thus making the Red Flash PSU west, it puts added pressure on Krimmel in the eyes of the remaining St. Francis faithful.

That’s OK — if the hiring’s successful.

Driscoll, then at Clemson, was a finalist for the Penn State Altoona job when Armon Gilliam was selected several years ago.

Former Red Flash star Mike Iuzzolino, who has spent the last three years in women’s basketball, applied but was quickly eliminated because he doesn’t have coaching experience in the men’s game. Krimmel, though, told Egan he would like to bring Iuzzolino back to the program at some point.

That may mean as an assistant to this hire, which would be positively received in the local community.

Krimmel also must deal with the delicate perception of his son Rob being potentially retained on the staff. Rob Krimmel, like his dad, is an outstanding person. At the same time, he, former player Joey Goodson and recent newcomer Winston Smith rode shotgun with Bobby Jones for the program’s recent carnage.

Would Jones have done better with a different staff or would the staff have performed better with a different head coach? Jones’ resignation has probably answered that.

Despite fleeting success since the Stokes era, Krimmel believes St. Francis can win its share and contend more frequently for Northeast Conference honors, and he’s right.

Now all he needs to do is hire the next Jim Baron to prove it.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or

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