Why did Navy, after sifting through 250-300 applications with resumes from successful Division I coaches and some big-time assistants, choose Paul Evans, a relatively unknown from a Division III school, to direct its basketball team?
Capt. J.O. (Bo) Coppedge, the Navy athletic director, clearly was sending a message to his counterparts in the Ivy League, who will vote next month whether to accept Navy and Army into their league for basketball.
"We wanted a guy used to academic requirements," Coppedge said today, a few minutes before Evans, with a 126-50 record in seven years at St. Lawrence, was formally introduced as the man to replace the fired Bob Hamilton.
"A guy from a high-powered program who's used to recruiting guys like Ralph Sampson can get a false sense of what's going on," he continued. "And the fact is: We're not going to change. We wanted someone who's familiar with our situation and knows Sampson didn't give us a lot of consideration."
Even Coppedge had to admit he didn't think the Mids' chances of gaining Ivy League acceptance this year were good. "But, he added, "I'd say they're 50-50 of getting in altogether. Like so many things, it may take a year or so."
The gain acceptance, Navy will need a unanimous vote from the league's eight athletic directors, Harvard's Jack Reardon Jr., the chairman of the Ivy ADs, said today. One factor, he indicated, that will work against the Mids' application, is that Navy does not want to join the Ivy League in football.
"We've had some discussions and reached no kind of conclusion," Reardon said yesterday. "We sort of operate as a league on most things. I don't know if it does or doesn't make sense."
Would the Ivey ADs be more receptive if both the West Point and Annapolis academies wanted to play Ivy League football.
That's a very interesting question," Reardon said. "It probably would be a very positive thing."
Coppedge said today, however, that the Mids cannot afford financially to play Ivy League football since large guarantees from such schools as a Michigan and Notre Dame plus television money -- Navy appeared the maximum five times on NCAA televised games the past two years -- supports the vast Navy athletic program.
It also became obvious today that there was more to Hamilton's firing than Coppedge's stated reason of his won-lost record (54-47 in four years).
Coppedge answered the question indirectly when he gave his No. 1 goal in what Navy was seeking in its new coach.
"First," Coppedge said, "to make sure it is a well and wholesome and fondly remembered experience for all the people who participate on the Naval Academy team. The thing so many of our graduates are most proud of and the thing they talk about the most is the coach and the experience playing varsity athletics."
Sources here said that a midseason incident in which Hamilton pushed center John Geshay playeda prominent part in his dismissala. Evans, who signed a three-year contract, will have all five Navy starters back from the team that lost the ECAC Southern final to Old Dominion in overtime. Evans said he will continue to stress a running game with strong defense.