Pete Herrmann is the new head basketball coach at Navy and the feeling, he said, is "tremendous."
Navy Athletic Director J.O. (Bo) Coppedge made the announcement yesterday afternoon at about the same time that Don Donoher, who was the only other candidate, was saying he had decided to remain at Dayton, where he has coached for the last 22 years.
This will be the first collegiate head coaching job for Herrmann, 37. He came to the academy as an assistant in 1980 with Paul Evans, who resigned last week to become University of Pittsburgh coach after leading the Midshipmen to a 30-5 record and to the final of the NCAA tournament's East regional.
A Buffalo native, Herrmann graduated in 1970 from Geneseo State, where he met Evans in 1969. Herrmann started his coaching career at Byron Bergen High School in Bergen, N.Y., and spent four years there, and then one season as the freshman coach at Hobart College, before going to Midlakes High in Phelps, N.Y., near Rochester for five years.
"I was in ecstasy," Herrmann said of his reaction when Coppedge, with the rest of the Naval Academy Athletic Association Board of Control on hand, offered the job at about 4 p.m. "I'm very happy. My association with the Naval Academy has been nothing but good. I've enjoyed being here and enjoyed the kids.
"The administration has shown they are backing the buildup of the program that Paul began, and they recognized that I'm comfortable and that my relationships with players, media and the Naval Academy are strong."
Said Coppedge: "He's proven in six long seasons that he was a good assistant. He knows the program, knows the kids, he's a well-rounded guy and he's shown that he's a good recruiter for the Naval Academy."
Herrmann said that Navy fans shouldn't expect any great changes in the style of play.
"If it's not broken, don't fix it," Herrmann said. "Paul's system was simple to teach, and I'll be demanding like he was in players maintaining fundamentals. It's a continuation of a solid program."
Herrman said John Fitzpatrick and Dave Laton would remain on the staff as his assistants, along with Al Moraz, the former High Point High coach who has directed the plebe/junior varsity team the past two seasons.
Donoher -- who had interviewed and then withdrew from consideration for the job in 1980 -- interviewed Monday. Tuesday night in Dayton, he talked with his family and close friends, including Indiana Coach Bob Knight. Late Wednesday morning he met with Dayton Athletic Director Tom Frericks and University President Brother Raymond L. Fitz, after which Donoher called Coppedge to say he would stay in Dayton.
When asked if the job had been offered to Donoher, Coppedge said: "I wouldn't want to comment on that." He then added: "The board wanted Pete, otherwise he wouldn't have gotten the job."
Donoher did not say explicitly that he had been offered the job. However, he did say: "It was a tough decision. I agonized over the decision. I agonized over it in 1980 and I agonized over it last night.
"The decision was made in the best interests of all the family. After all, this is our home, this is where our roots are."
The 54-year-old Donoher, who has a 399-225 record at Dayton, has strong ties to the academy, and the Donoher and Coppedge families are close. Donoher's brother, Tom, was an academy graduate and then a chaplain at the school until his death in 1980. Donoher's son, Paul, is a Navy graduate and a pilot.
"The Naval Academy is a very special institution to our family," Donoher said. "As Billy Packer says: 'This is a no-call situation.' "
Frericks called the news conference in Dayton when Donoher decided to stay put. "We don't normally call press gathering when we don't make a change," Frericks said. "But we did because of [Donoher's] 22 years of service and interest to the community. We couldn't let him leave and not get his 400th win at the University of Dayton."