By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The MSU-Northern athletic department is nearing the end of phase one in the search for a new head women's basketball coach.
"We are trying to find the best candidate for the position," Ted Spatkowski, athletic director, said.
The department, by the end of this week, would like to have identified a candidate, to be hired on an interim basis, who could fill the position of Skylights' head coach.
Ray Peters, who had been with the program for four years, vacated the position last month to take an administrative position in Olympia, Wash.
Because of state and federal laws, a nationwide search must be conducted, however, an interim coach could be hired for the 2000-01 school year.
The interim coach would be eligible, after the 2000-01 season, to apply for the full-time position. Due to a strict timeline that includes summer camps and recruiting, the position needs to be filled immediately.
"Due to time constraints, we need to hire immediately," Spatkowski said.
The Skylights plan to host a position camp beginning on Friday, June 23. This camp kicks off the Skylights basketball camp, which is slated to run June 25-29.
The Skylights are currently running a camp for grades 1-6, which is being run by Gerry Weir, sports information director at Northern.
"Recruits get a little hesitant to sign without a head coach in place," Spatkowski said. "We have three-to-four people identified to fill the position on an interim basis," he said.
Availability and a willingness to move to Havre are playing into the candidates ability to begin work at Northern.
Officials would not release the names of the candidates.
If, by the end of this week, a successful candidate has not been chosen, a regional search, including the Pacific Northwest will be conducted. That candidate would also be hired on an interim basis.
The third phase would involve an all-out national search if an interim coach could not be found.
"We would draw from a pool of outstanding candidates," Spatkowski said. The successful candidate would be hired as a full-time coach and teacher, which is included in the position.
If a nationwide search needs to be conducted, the athletic department would not hesitate to cancel the Skylights camp.
"We don't want to do a poor job of running the camp," Spatkowski said, adding that Weir could not run the camp due to prior commitments.
Spatkowski cited honesty and loyalty as the two most outstanding features in choosing a head coach.
That honesty must be shown in recruiting, toward the players, the program, and the institution, Spatkowski said.
"We are not looking for someone who is on a fast track," Spatkowski said. "We want commitment to the program for a number of years."
Preferred candidates should have head coaching experience, teaching experience, which includes a master's degree, recruiting experience, budget management, and scheduling knowledge.
The Skylights' basketball program has been successful throughout the years, claiming an NAIA national championship in 1993 and claiming Frontier Conference championships in 1984-87 and 1989-1999.
"In general, we need someone who would make a good fit for our department," Spatkowski said.