‘Every coaching situation is different:’ Boatright discusses upcoming coaching search


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown talks to a ref during the game against Tulane at Charles Koch Arena on Feb. 3.

It’s no secret that the men’s basketball team’s search for its next head coach will be a pivotal one in the future of the program. Wichita State Director of Athletics Darron Boatright discussed the looming coaching search including Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown’s performance, the player’s impact on the decision and what he’s looking for in a candidate.

This offseason saw WSU’s winningest head coach Gregg Marshall resign from his position following a three-month investigation. With the team looking towards the future, they are looking for the next coach to take over at the helm. 

Boatright said that even though they are still early in the search process, he wants to make sure everyone is doing their due diligence. 

“With these things you try to be as thorough as you can and watch and read and try to evaluate as many coaches as you can that you think might possibly fit your situation,” he said. “I think we have a coach here on an interim basis that’s doing a good job and he deserves every evaluation as well.”

Boatright said that he doesn’t have a target date for naming the next head coach.

“I don’t like to put timelines on this,” Boatright said. “That creates anticipation and expectation and I don’t think that’s healthy for a search process. I don’t necessarily have a timeline but when we find the right candidate and that individual’s ready to lead us then that’s when we’ll wrap it up.”

With just over a week until the start of the season, Isaac Brown was inserted into the Interim Head Coach position and the team has thrived since. Brown’s transition has been successful as the Shockers are 10-4 on the season and sit in second place for the AAC. Brown has also reached the ten-win benchmark in ten fewer games than in Marshall’s debut season at WSU.

Boatright said that given the team’s early season success under Brown on an interim basis, he will have the opportunity to earn the full-time position.

“He’s doing a fantastic job and will get every consideration for the opportunity to lead this program on a permanent basis,” he said.

The players have been open in their support of Brown, even saying that he’s brought “new energy and confidence” into the locker room. Boatright said that the players’ voices will have an impact on the final decision.

“You have to evaluate the belief that young men have in whoever you bring in or you just stay with the coach that’s already here,” he said. “Obviously, it’s good to see that these young guys are believing in their coach, accepting his leadership and you can see it in their play. All those things are considered.”

Given the amount of uncertainty that the team has faced this season from COVID-19 delays to the resignation of Marshall, Boatright said that the program’s success has taken him by surprise. 

“With as many new young men as we have on this roster, it was going to be an incredibly difficult year if there were no distractions,” Boatright said. “I’m not surprised with Isaac’s performance necessarily, I’m surprised that this appears to be such a cohesive unit of young men that are playing together and for the most part new to the program. That’s surprising, it really is.”

Marshall’s resignation also came with a hefty separation agreement where he will receive $7.75 million over the next six years. Boatright said that Marshall’s separation agreement won’t hinder WSU in the search process  from a financial standpoint.

Marshall was making $3.5 million per year at the time of his resignation, which was the 15th-highest in the country. According to Boatright, he anticipates this next coach’s salary being different because of the experience and success Marshall possessed. 

“That was a special situation,” Boatright said. “Coach (Marshall) was in his 14th year here so I don’t really want to get into the specifics because it’s going to be based upon experience and based upon the value that individual brings that they deserve. Every coaching situation is different.”

Boatright said that keeping emotions out of this process is key, which can be troublesome for fans at times. 

“To go through a process like this you have to evaluate it and eliminate as much emotion as possibly can,” Boatright said. “You have to evaluate the way this person may fit into the community or be able to associate, communicate with your fan base and your donor base. It definitely matters but you can’t let your emotions play into it.”

Boatright said that there are some specific qualities that he is looking for in the team’s next head coach.

“You look for someone to lead young men, overcome adversity, be the best they can be on and off the court, represent the university that we all want to see it represented, someone who knows the game, someone who has good recruiting ties, someone that can sell the university and sell themselves,” Boatright said. “Ultimately that’s what it’s about, selling yourself to young people to come and allow them to lead you for a period of time.”