When it came to filling the one vacancy on his staff, Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery didn’t have to drum up interest.
Billy Taylor will replace Jerry Strom as the Hawkeyes’ director of basketball operations, and McCaffery said Saturday that he received 90 applications for the job. He conducted 13 interviews – three in person, 10 on the phone – before selecting Taylor, a former head coach at Ball State and Lehigh and someone McCaffery is very familiar with.
McCaffery recruited Taylor to Notre Dame, and coached him there. Taylor later joined the Irish staff, where he and McCaffery worked for John McLeod. Taylor was also McCaffery’s top assistant at North Carolina-Greensboro from 1999 to 2002.
“Billy is someone with tremendous character and will be a great asset to our program,” McCaffery said.
Strom announced his retirement in May. He was a member of the Iowa staff for 32 years, and became the director or basketball operations starting with the 1983-84 season. Strom worked for six Iowa coaches – Lute Olson, George Raveling, Tom Davis, Steve Alford, Todd Lickliter and McCaffery.
“He was an ambassador for us,” McCaffery said.
Taylor spent the previous 11 seasons as a head Division I coach – five at Lehigh, the last six at Ball State, where he was fired after a second straight 15-15 season. Taylor was hired by Ball State in August of 2007, and inherited a 22-loss program that, according to the Muncie Star Press, been tarnished by NCAA violations and accusations of racism under previous coach Ronny Thompson.
Under Taylor, the team improved its Academic Progress Rate scores dramatically. But his 87-99 record cost him his job.
Taylor was 68-83 at Lehigh, and made the 2004 NCAA Tournament. He was a two-time coach of the year in the Patriot League.
Taylor played at Notre Dame for Digger Phelps, lettering four years and starting 79 of 112 games. He captained the Irish as a senior. He had 577 career points and 300 rebounds, graduating in 1995.
Taylor who made $215,000 last season at Ball State, was one of three finalists for the head coaching job at North Carolina-Asheville this spring.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball