The search to find the new Southern Miss men’s basketball coach entered the interview phase on Tuesday.
The USM search committee spoke with four candidates in New Orleans, the Sun Herald has learned.
Southeastern Louisiana head coach Jay Ladner and USM assistant Clarence Weatherspoon sat down with the search committee during the morning sessions. Former Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy and Texas Tech assistant Mark Adams were scheduled for afternoon interviews.
Coaches were informed that a couple of them may be called back for more discussions on Wednesday.
A new head coach could be announced by Thursday.
New USM athletic director Jeremy McClain is in search of a new basketball coach after Doc Sadler resigned on April 11 after five years on the job.
McClain will have to decide whether he wants to choose a candidate who will satisfy fans that want to see a former Golden Eagle hired like Ladner or Weatherspoon or go with more a more experienced coach like Kennedy or Adams.
Also on Tuesday, Ladner received the support of his former teammates on the 1987 USM team that won the NIT championship.
“If I had a son, I would want him to play for Coach Jay Ladner,” former USM standout Casey Fisher said in the statement. “Jay is a proven winner. Jay made me a better person and basketball player simply by being my teammate. His approach to the game challenged me to practice hard everyday and play harder when we took the floor. Jay is the ideal Golden Eagle.”
The names of 12 of Ladner’s former teammates were included in the statement along with six other coaches and managers from the ‘87 team.
Ladner, a Hattiesburg native, coached for 20 seasons on the high school level at St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, leading the Rockachaws to a record of 511-189 and the 2010 Class 4A state title.
Ladner, 53, is 76-88 in five years at SELA and won a junior college national title at Jones County Junior College.
Kennedy, 55, was 151-116 in seven seasons at Texas A&M and was named the 2016 SEC Coach of the Year during a 28-9 season that included a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. The Aggies made it to the NCAA Tournament twice under Kennedy’s watch, reaching the Sweet Sixteen both times.
A native of New Orleans, Kennedy has taken three different programs to the NCAA Tournament, doing it at Southeastern Louisiana in 2005 and Murray State in 2010.
In 21 seasons as a head coach, Kennedy has a record of 361-294.
Kennedy has one of college basketball’s more compelling personal stories after being diagosed with Parkinson’s disease prior to the 2011-12 season, his first at Texas A&M.
Weatherspoon, who played in the NBA for 13 years, joined the Southern Miss staff under Sadler in August of 2016. The 48-year-old helped the Eagles go from 9-22 in 2016-17 to 20-13 this past season.
Adams drew a lot of attention during Texas Tech’s run to the national title game after head coach Chris Beard credited him for coordinating a dominant defensive effort during their NCAA Tournament run. The Red Raiders held opponents to an average of 55.8 points a game during their five wins in the tournament.
Adams, a 1979 graduate of Texas Tech, is a former head coach at Texas-Pan American and Div. II West Texas A&M. He coached Howard College to a junior college national title and has also served as an assistant at Little Rock.