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Wade Gilley: Greg Marshall among many strong MU coaches

Apr. 21, 2013 @ 10:30 PM

Anyone who has met Greg Marshall was not surprised when Coach Rick Pitino (coach of the 2013 national NCAA basketball champion) was so strong in his praise of Greg after the semifinal game between Louisville and Wichita State last week. There is no doubt in my mind that Greg Marshall is one of the best team/game coaches in America.

I first met Greg Marshall in 1996 when Head Coach White hired him as an assistant coach at Marshall University. Even then he had an excellent reputation as a real coach who could get the maximum from his players -- he was an excellent hire. I ran into Greg Marshall on other occasions, and his ability to coach a team was again and again very evident.

In 1994, when we were looking for a new basketball coach at Marshall, a strong university supporter, John Hall, CEO of Ashland Oil, called. He asked if I would take a call from Rick Pitino, who was then Kentucky's coach. I agreed and found that Pitino wanted to recommend his assistant Billy Donovan for the head coaching position at Marshall. Pitino's recommendation was very specific and I learned later (after we hired Donovan) that it was very accurate.

Marshall University has had many great coaches, both head and assistant coaches, over the years and especially over the last two decades. Billy Donovan (Florida), Greg Marshall, Donnie Jones (now at UCF), Anthony Grant (now at Alabama) and Greg White were all great coaches and there were others. (White in his six years at Marshall was the third winningest coach in the MAC and had a 90 percent graduation rate, or the best in America. And in the Greg White era, Keith Veney set an NCAA record with 15 three-pointers in Marshall's Henderson Center arena against Morehead State University on Dec. 14, 1996.)

So, going back to Cam Henderson, Marshall University has a strong history in college basketball but no school in America has produced such a strong field of ex-coaches as Marshall -- Billy Donovan, Greg White, Anthony Grant, Donnie Jones and Greg Marshall among several others are all a tribute to how great coaches feel about the opportunity to coach the Thundering Herd.

And with more change coming to NCAA athletics, Marshall's basketball tradition will mean even more in the years ahead.

Wade Gilley was president of Marshall University from 1991 through 1999.

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