Navy basketball Coach Paul Evans, who this season took the Midshipmen to the best record in the history of the sport at the academy, is a candidate for the coaching job at Kentucky.
According to sources here, Evans, 39, was interviewed today by Kentucky Athletic Director Cliff Hagan in connection with the vacancy created when Joe B. Hall resigned as coach last Friday. Hagan is the head of a five-member search committee appointed to find a replacement for Hall.
Evans said he could not comment on whether he had been interviewed by Kentucky.
Evans did say today that he expects his star player at Navy, 6-foot-11 sophomore center David Robinson, to announce next week whether he will stay at Navy. "I'm extremely confident David is going to stay," Evans said. "I'm almost certain of it, in fact."
Robinson, who blossomed from a 6-7 high school senior who had never played baksetball into a college star, was ECAC South player of the year this season, leading Navy to a 26-6 record, the league title and its first NCAA bid in 25 years. If Robinson does not leave the academy after this semester, he will be required to serve in the Navy for five years after graduation.
There has been speculation that if Evans, who has been at Navy for five years, did leave, he might take Robinson with him. But Robinson is a mathematics major with a 3.3 grade-point average who wants to become an engineer. Kentucky does not seem a likely spot for him academically.
If he decided to transfer, it is more likely Robinson would turn up in the Atlantic Coast Conference, with Virginia, Duke and Georgia Tech possible choices for him. The last two have top engineering programs.
Evans, who arrived in Lexington today for the National Association of Basketball Coaches convention, probably is not the No. 1 candidate for the Kentucky job. But his background at the academy, which is highly rated academically, might influence Kentucky President Otis A. Singletary, who is expected to make the final decision.
Others being mentioned for the job are Alabama-Birmingham Coach Gene Bartow, Arizona Coach Lute Olson (who also reportedly has been interviewed), South Florida Coach Lee Rose and Purdue Coach Gene Keady.
Several previously mentioned candidates, including Los Angeles Lakers Coach Pat Riley and Denver Nuggets star Dan Issel, both Kentucky alumni, and Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins, have removed their names from consideration.
Although local newspapers here have followed the saga of Kentucky's search for a coach closely, Evans' name never has been included on the list of glamour names bounced around on a daily basis. Sources say that Evans was offically contacted by Kentucky this week.
There has been controversy in the search for a coach because Leonard Hamilton, Hall's top assistant and a staff member for 11 seasons, has not been considered for the job. Hamilton is black and members of the black community here have protested his exclusion from the process.
In a story in this morning's Lexington Herald-Leader, Hagan is quoted as saying, "No black has contacted us, therefore we haven't contacted any blacks. In other words, we want someone who wants us." Hamilton, who might want to remain at Kentucky with the new coach, has not commented on the situation.