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Huggins adds Everhart to staff

MORGANTOWN - There was no surprise Monday when West Virginia basketball Coach Bob Huggins hired a close friend as an assistant.

Still, there was a moment that stood out in conversation when former Duquesne Coach Ron Everhart spoke of his working relationship with Huggins, more than a month in the making.

"In all honesty," said the 50-year-old Everhart, "this is something that I've really wanted to do for a very long time and I'm not so sure if I wasn't a head coach right now somewhere that I wouldn't have given up that opportunity to take this one."

Everhart and Huggins have known one another for decades. Everhart was born in Fairmont and when he was growing up as a prep star at Fairmont Senior, he admired Huggins and the way he played for the Mountaineers.  

One night, when a snowstorm stranded Everhart on the WVU campus, Huggins let Everhart stay on the floor of his dorm room.

They've since become competitors who battled each other for recruits and results, but also guys who vacation together and whose families have become close through the years.

Nevertheless, for a coach to say he would leave a head coaching position to work as an assistant might or might not be an embellishment.

"I messed it up one time before and I was really hoping it would work out better the second time," he said. "Earlier in my career, I considered it. I really was going to leave a head coaching position to go work with Coach Huggins, and maybe in a lot of ways I regret not doing that at that point in time."

It marks the second time in his coaching career that Everhart follows in the footsteps of a Calhoun. Everhart was the head coach at Northeastern at the time and he declined Huggins' offer to join his staff at the University of Cincinnati.

Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun was Northeastern's head coach from 1972-86, and Everhart took over the NU program in 2001.

At WVU, Everhart replaces Jerrod Calhoun, who last month was named the head coach at Fairmont State.

Everhart will make $175,000 on a one-year contract. Like contracts for other assistants, it can be renewed at the end of every season.  

After Northeastern, Everhart moved on to Duquesne and went 0-4 against WVU, which dropped his record against his mentor to 0-5.

"Since then, absolutely we have talked about it," Everhart said.

"He'll do a great job recruiting," Huggins said. "He's got contacts in a lot of places that we don't have them. I think he's going to do a great job."

Everhart has been a college coach for 27 years and was a head coach every season since 1994. His overall record is 273-261, which includes his first job at McNeese State.

He led the Dukes to postseason appearances in 2009-11. They won three games the year before he was hired, but he ended the school's streak of 13 consecutive losing seasons and nearly won the Atlantic 10 Tournament in 2009, finishing 21-13 and making the National Invitation Tournament.

It was the school's highest win total since 1971 and the first postseason appearance since 1994.

Duquesne slipped this past season to 16-15 and turned down a postseason appearance. Three players, including star point guard T.J. McConnell, transferred before Everhart was fired.

Everhart said he had no regrets about his time spent at Duquesne, where he was 99-89 overall and 46-50 in Atlantic 10 play, or his exit with two years remaining on his contract.

"I may have before (Monday), but with the way things worked out here, there's not one regret or disappointment," he said. "That's how much this means to me."

He said he has no desire to pursue a head coaching job.

"I'm excited and happy right where I am," he said.

"This is something I've been thinking about for years. This is what I want to do. I've been a head coach for 18 years and I had a heck of a run, but right now I want to help a guy who's helped me for a number of years."

Everhart coached from 2002-06 at Northeastern and won inside the Coliseum in November 2003. That team included NBA point guard Jose Juan Barea, who had 19 points and 10 assists in the win.

The Huskies won 59 games his final three years and were 26 games above .500 in conference play. They made the NIT in 2005.

Everhart won 92 games at McNeese State from 1994-2001. In 2000, the Cowboys were 6-21. A year later, they were 22-9, won the Southland Conference's regular-season title and made the NIT as Everhart was named the conference's coach of the year.

The young Everhart moved from Fairmont to Maryland's DeMatha High for his senior season and was a first-team Catholic Prep All-American. He lettered for four years at Virginia Tech and was a captain of the 1985 NCAA Tournament team. He was a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech before being hired at Virginia Military Institute (1986-88) and then Tulane (1988-94).

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.

 


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