UPDATED 3/7/07 AT 3:47 P.M.
Quinnipiac Athletic Director Jack McDonald announced today that Joe DeSantis will not be returning as head men’s basketball coach for the 2007-08 season.
“I want to thank Joe for his 11 years of service to the university,” McDonald said in a statement released by the university. “He oversaw our men’s basketball team as we moved from a Division II to a Division I program. We appreciate what he has done for Quinnipiac during his tenure as head coach, and we wish him all the best going forward.”
DeSantis said he wasn’t expecting the news, but understands that things like this can happen in coaching.
“I’m a little surprised since it was the highest we’ve ever finished in the league,” DeSantis said. “But they obviously have different thoughts and I understand. It’s a business and you just have to move on.”
DeSantis had been the head coach at Quinnipiac since he signed on with the program July 22, 1996. He pioneered the team through its final two seasons at the Division II level before it made the jump to the Northeast Conference for the 1998-99 campaign.
This season, DeSantis was at the helm for the team’s transition into Quinnipiac’s new athletic facility, the TD Banknorth Sports Center. After a 2-10 start, the Bobcats rode a second-half hot streak to a third-place finish in the NEC with a conference record of 11-7.
The Bobcats defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, 78-77, in the quarterfinals of the NEC tournament in their first home playoff game in 14 years. Quinnipiac fell to second-seeded Sacred Heart, 83-69, in the semifinals Sunday to finish the season at 14-15, the team’s fourth straight losing season.
DeSantis wraps up his tenure at Quinnipiac with an overall record of 118-188 and 70-98 in the NEC.
Prior to arriving in Hamden, DeSantis worked as an assistant coach for 13 years at the Division I level and made three NCAA tournament appearances. The closest Quinnipiac came to a national tournament berth was in 2002, when DeSantis took his team to the NEC championship game, but was beaten by Central Connecticut State, 78-71.
DeSantis leaves the program with the second longest tenure in school history. The late Burt Kahn is the longest-serving coach in Quinnipiac history, holding his post from 1960-1991.
McDonald said the university will retain a national search firm to assist in the aggressive recruitment of a new head coach for the basketball program.
DeSantis said he still has a desire to coach elsewhere in the future.
“It’d be easier if I was 25 or 65 [years old],” he said. “If I was 25, I’d be applying for every coaching position out there. If I was 65, I’d hang it up. But I’ll be 50. I still want to coach. I’m just going to take a little time and see what happens.”