Basketball: DeAveiro takes McGill job, which raises questions

The exodus of coaches continues at Ottawa: David DeAveiro is moving to McGill, meaning the Gee-Gees have lost the leaders of two flagship teams in less than two months.

DeAveiro will be attempting to turn around the Redmen, having already done so with the Gee-Gees, whom he transformed from one of the worst teams in the country to a contender which earned CIS tournament berths in 2005, '07 and '09. One has to wonder how Ottawa athletic director Luc Gélineau can rationalize letting DeAveiro, who presided over a perennial Top 10 men's basketball team, walk away weeks after Denis Piché stepped down from a perennial Top 10 football team.

(Of course, all of this is framed against considerably larger challenges facing the University of Ottawa, as noted in the comments and in Saturday's Ottawa Citizen by the awesome Randall Denley. However, sloughing off the small stuff doesn't help solve major issues.)

York is in the same boat with coaching changes, but its were understandable. Long-time Lions men's hoops coach Bob Bain retired after 37 years and the football team has lost 19 consecutive games. In Ottawa's case, it's had three productive coaches in mid-career, counting hockey coach Shelley Coolidge (now at Carleton), each leave in less than 12 months.

The question is no longer why, it's who, or more like who's next?

One always tries to have some regard for a coach's privacy with these matters, since it's not like we're talking about NCAA Division I coaches with seven-figure annual incomes. There were signs DeAveiro was looking for a change. He interviewed with Ryerson before it hired Roy Rana. Following the 2009 Final 8, I had someone call me who asked if I had noticed something odd after Ottawa's consolation-game win over Concordia. The Gee-Gees assembled for a team photo, but DeAveiro didn't join them even after the players waved him over.

The upshot is this is good for McGill and the QSSF, which is coming off a season where it got completely blanked in the coaches' poll. Between DeAveiro, Concordia's John Dore and UQAM's Olga Hrycak, Bishop's Rod Gilpin and Jacques Paiement Jr. at Laval, there's a lot of talent and energy on the sidelines in that league. One would hope that translates into the Q getting a first-round W at the Final 8 before too long.

Meantime, as much as people are happy for DeAveiro and his opportunity at McGill, his departure closes the book on a great period in the Canal War. The Carleton-Ottawa city rivalry was probably never more tense than it was in 2006 and '07, when the Gee-Gees won the January matchup each time and the Ravens rallied to win the national title.

It takes two special teams in order to produce that atmosphere, and right now it is hard to imagine it being repeated without DeAveiro at the opposite end at the court from the Carleton coaching staff. His successor stands to inherit talents such as Warren Ward, Keisha Edwards and Ryan Malcolm-Campbell, but the bar was set fairly high at Ottawa.

It's a tough act to follow, especially if there's a morale problem at the university. It feels like Ottawa is really at a crossroads, especially if Carleton builds a competitive football program.

(Talk about omens: during some spring cleaning today brought on by a pending move to a new job, I happened across a 2007 Ottawa Sun clipping of an article about DeAveiro's Gee-Gees. This comes on the same day my likely last column in the Sun appeared with quotes from Carleton AD Jennifer Brenning, who was also previously at Ottawa.)
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  1. How about Craig Norman to UOttawa?

  2. Would Taffe Charles be up to move across town and take his mentor on head to head?

  3. Not in a thousand years, no way.

  4. @10:43 p.m.: I have no inside knowledge, but that doesn't seem plausible with respect to Taffe Charles. It's more like we picked the wrong coach from an Ottawa school back in March!

    It would figure that Norman would apply for the Ottawa job, having coached RMC and McGill. Would there be a linguistic issue, though?

  5. Dave D's departure from the Gee Gees in all probability means
    the rivalry between Carleton and Ottawa as we knew it is dead.
    As it was, Ottawa was already in tough for next year with Warren Ward the
    only proven star amongst a roster of largely sophomores and veterans who have
    yet to really prove themselves.
    Whomever is chosen to replace DeAveiro could to great extent determine
    how well Ottawa fares next year, but if Gelineau picks
    Carlos "Bobby" Brown, I think their fate is sealed.

  6. just wondering Dave DeAverio speaks any French...I thought that was one of the things McGill was looking for after their inability to recruit big names in province?

  7. Good question, Prizby. However, he does have nine seasons' experience coaching at Ottawa.

    Would McGill have the ability to recruit more academic guys (McGill sells itself academically) and then recruit heavily in Ontario?

  8. I am not sure about McGill's academics, I know, at least for most English based programs, yes the average is higher, but where I am not sure is, does McGill not have a french program to? Are those academic standards as high as the English side? Would McGill be able to take in the average (academically) french speaking student, so, thus, if you the coach was bi-lingual, it would help with in province recruiting?

    As for Ontario recruiting though, it would seem Carleton has a big lock on the majority Ottawa's best players, McMaster on Hamilton's, Windsor on Windsor's, Western on London, the Toronto based school's on a lot of Toronto's best players, even in the Canada West, most of those school's seem to lock up their talent and keep them, for the most part, in province, so how successful can Coach D be?

    I guess it would really depend on the relationships he already has in place with high school/rep team basketball coaches, because wouldn't the majority of high school basketball players go play where their high school or rep team coach recommends them to go (to better develop their talents)?

  9. Coolidge, Piche, and DeAviero all left in a short period. Each had a different reason. The common thread is that each telegraphed their discontent. Piche was known to be thinking about it. DeAviero interviewd for another job months ago. Both have long histoies as players and coaches at uOttawa. Their Garnet and Grey loyalty runs deep. In each case the AD was unable to address their discontent . Unable to offer them the support they needed to continue as HCs in spite of their proven loyalty to their programs. Does not speak well for Gelineau's people skills. The Buck stops with him, and that should be noted when his bosses do his next performance review.

  10. Dave D was linked last year with both the Ryerson and Alberta jobs. Back in 04 when he got his contract extenstion, he had been linked to the Toronto job. Now most people know that Dave and Mike Katz have a close relationship, and I personally don't think Dave would ever have gone into competition against Mike, but his name linked to the job probably helped land him that contract. He played the game well.

    Most of the comments are coming from th position of how could Ottawa let this happen? I guess the question I would ask - is do you try and keep a successful employee who clearly isn't happy and has been looking around for some time, or do you at some point say it's time to move on.

    Each situation is different - Boston College last year fired their football coach for interviewing for a NFL coordinator position. Could it be this Luc fellow had reached his breaking point of trying to keep Dave happy? I throw it out there for dedate...

  11. Very good point. My snappy, smart-alecky answer is you move on if you have a contingency plan.

  12. Incidentally, nothing happens in a vacuum and it should be noted that this is not an especially fun time to be a higher-up at the University of Ottawa.

    Sayeth the Citizen: "According to an internal report, the university faces significant deficits, its much-vaunted new focus on research is not financially sustainable and its students are seriously dissatisfied with what the university offers."

    (Gee, who could have forseen that growing from 27,000 to 38,000 students in eight years would lead to larger class sizes and unhappy students?)

    Ottawa was so upset over this story, Allan Rock desperately tried to spin it any way he could. (Invoking Ontario's double cohort seven years after it happened is the height of irrelevance.)

    Maybe these things are all unrelated. But I wouldn't bet on it.

  13. If McGill AD Drew Love's track record at Carleton is any indicator,
    Dave D should get the support he found lacking at Ottawa U.
    Under his watch at Carleton, a lot of changes were made including
    construction of new facilities, adding men and women's ockey, dumping the money pit football program
    and of course, hiring Dave Smart.
    Under Love's stewardship, Carleton went from being a school known for across the board mediocrity in facilities and programs to one
    of the more progressive universities, with a genuine dynasty in a marquee CIS sport.
    Dave Smart has frequently praised the university administration for
    providing the support he needed to run the men's team.
    So Dave DeAveiro should be able to count on the same kind of support at McGill.
    The caveat, however, is that Love doesn't tolerate mediocre or poor performance
    for very long so the pressure is on to make the men's bball program a winner
    and sooner than later.

  14. If you personally made signifcantly less than your cross town rival and your program received significantly less financial support from the institution than your rival wouldn't you want to leave too?

    Perhaps DeAveiro did explore other jobs such as Ryerson and Alberta (he interviewed at both and was offered Ryerson) partially to gain leverage at Ottawa U., which he pretty obviously loved. But, ultimately my guess he realized no matter what the leverage acceptable fiscal support was not coming from his alma mater.

  15. Financially, I don't think uOttawa is worse off than other unis.Maybe not as bad as some.

    But the double whammy of expanding both the undergrad population too fast and expanding the number of research programs at the same time, put a strain on facilities on professors and administrators. Rob Pettapiece is right in saying that the double cohort is a red herring . All Ontario universities faced that, but uOttawa decided to drastically increase its undergrad pop permanently, not only as a temporary blip due to the double cohort. Now they are playing catch-up , building new spaces and trying to find more staff, and the money to pay them. They probably will catch up eventually.It will take time. However, if you are a student who will graduate in two years, you are not interested to hear that we will be all caught up in four or five years time. Hence there is a great deal of discontent with overcrowding, large classes etc by today's student. Justifiably so. The university , mostly under the presidency of Gilles Patry made a bad decision to expand the student pop so quickly.

  16. THe issue i think the uottawa has more then anything is the size of there population at the school and its expected to grow by alot in the next few years.THey should not have any money issues if anything they may have to much and not enough space to house all these students.

  17. Anon at 3;31--Gazooks. I hope they now have enough sense to freeze the student pop for several years and not grow it more. Yes they need grow building space and increase access to professors for students who want and need it.
    A big complaint I have heard is that the athletic facilities are crowded and students who want to do recreational sport and fitness programs find it hard to get adequate time in the facilities. They need to get going now on the planned new sports complex.

  18. A Caring Coach4/16/2010 5:24 pm

    My first ever comment on a blog.

    I am a coach at the school, and have been for a long time. 8 years ago we lost our varsity status when changes were made to bring national visibility to the school by winning national championships. Many good teams lost their varsity status. The one I coach was one of them. At the time, I was very vocal against the changes, and very angry, because the team I coach was quite successful and because I am a strong believer in the non- targeting of sports, athletes, schools, you name it, because no one can tell me with any certainty where the next best athlete is going to come from and in what sport.. Since 2002 not one national championship by any varsity team. Several years ago I stopped being angry and gloating over the lack of success and started feeling really sorry for the athletes because I had played several varsity sports as an undergrad and even into grad school. I still feel bad. I know all the athletes put in so much effort and have gotten so close in a couple of varsity sports only not to pull it off, I can't help it. I have a big heart. Winning isn't everything, I say it all the time; it is just more fun than loosing. And it is contagious. For one there needs to be some changes with the varsity/competitive club split at the school, the haves vs. the have nots, and it needs to happen yesterday, and then watch, your national championships will start happening, perhaps in sports you least expect. And like I said it is contagious. We had an expression in the military that went something like “All leave is cancelled until moral improves”. Enough said.

  19. If you look at the big picture at Ottawa U, you'll realize
    losing a good basketball coach is the least of their worries.
    There have been big time problems at Ottawa for a long time and
    they've only gotten worse since Allan Rock became prez.
    Rock was your quintessential sleaze ball Chretien era cabinet minister..
    every portfolio he held he f@@cked it up.
    And he's brought that same expertise to this job.
    His rebuttal of Randall Denley's column in the Citizen is laughable.
    Ottawa U is is in deep trouble financially and everyone knows it.

  20. @9:24: You nailed it in every regard, and you're clearly smarter than me for intro'ing Mr. Denley's column into the equation. DeAveiro's departure is a symptom of a larger problem.

  21. NO i don't think the uottawa is any worse then any other university.

  22. In Wayne Kondro's article today in the Citizen he mentions some possible interest in the job from outside parties.

    Who might be the best candidate?

  23. Anon 1:00 AM...
    Oh no?
    Look, it's not me saying the university is in trouble financially.
    it's their own internal audit that says so.
    If things are so hunky dorey at Ottawa U, why does the school rank
    52nd out of 53 schools surveyed on student satisfaction issues?
    The report basically concluded that the school's obsession
    with becoming a research oriented university was driving up operating costs
    while revenues were not keeping pace.
    Ottawa's student population has been increasing exponentially over the last
    ten years, and as a result has put a strain on existing facilities,
    including new infrastructure built in recent years.
    Again, I'm not making this up...these are the findings of
    their own researchers.

  24. Who else interviewed at McGill? Maybe they would be good candidates for the UOttawa job.

  25. One name frequently being bandied about is former McGill coach Craig Norman...
    the irony of that I'm sure is not lost on anyone.

  26. any indication on whether Western's Campbell or LU's Swords would leave to go to Ottawa?

  27. On the other comment thread, it's noted that Campbell said he was not interested.

    Western is a better sports school than Ottawa.

  28. That would be Jacques Paiement Jr. - the Laval coach.

  29. Thanks ... I was working on a story the day before that made reference to football, so I had Jacques Tanguay on the brain. Dumb-dumb-me.

  30. As odd as it sounds i think the biggest probleam is with the students assoc more then anything.