The administration at Keene State College needs to tear up the contract and call off the search.
There is no reason why interim men’s basketball head coach Ryan Cain should still have that title. The night that Cain and his team returned to campus after their Little East Conference Tournament win, the interim tag should have been taken off. The tag also should of been taken off when Cain took his team to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament with a win against Middlebury College.
There are a number of reasons why the tag should be taken off immediately. Let’s start off with the situation he came into. The athletic department was in shambles with previous men’s basketball head coach Rob Colbert fired after 16 seasons for misconduct involving the Gino Vallante scandal. In addition, former Athletic Director John Ratliff retired because of the scandal.
Colbert’s firing and Ratliff’s retirement outraged people in the community with many residents writing letters to the Keene Sentinel in support of the former coach.
Another tough situation that Cain came into was quite a few returning players who had good relationships with Colbert. In a Sept. 10, 2015 article in The Equinox, Cain said that building relationships with the players and the community was important. “Obviously number one would be connecting the players and then shortly after that would be connecting with everybody on campus. I think it is important for the players and the community to hopefully transition and support our program moving forward,” Cain said at the time.
It is probably fair to say that he has done this with the large crowds this year at Spaulding Gym. His players speak highly of him and his coaching staff. In a March 3 article from The Equinox, Nate Stitchell praised the coaching staff. “They basically are the glue for all the puzzle pieces. They helped keep us together, keep our minds right. A lot of times we got discouraged during the season because it happens to everybody. Those are the guys we can look to to keep us together,” Stitchell said.
The team certainly stuck together because of the coaching staff when the Owls lost starter Dizel Wright for the season and Lucas Hamel for 14 games on the same day. The team also had to deal with a number of small injuries along the way.
I believe Coach Cain really did an excellent job in keeping the team together and the guys played hard for him. Some teams might just pack it in when facing that much adversity, but these players did not and that is a credit to Cain.
Honestly, I’m sure I am not the only one, but when KSC lost Stitchell and Hamel, I thought the season would completely unravel. However, Cain led the team to an 18-10 record overall and an 8-6 LEC record which put the Owls in the third place in the conference. Including the NCAA contests, his team’s record sits at 20-10 and they have a seven game winning streak.
Another factor that has come into play is that Cain is a winner. In September The Equinox reported his accomplishments. Those included Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Cain’s alma mater, having just one 20 plus win seasons before Cain arrived. However, with Cain there as a player and then an assistant coach the program experienced 12 straight 20 plus win seasons.
The list goes on and on. During his playing career he played in three NCAA tournament appearances. He also won four New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season titles. In addition, he won two NEWMAC tournaments and the league’s player of the year twice. Finally, he is WPI’s all-time leading scorer 1,813 points.
Cain did not get the Coach of the Year award for the LEC as it went to Southern Maine’s head coach. You have to figure Cain got some votes for the job he did. Some people think the interim tag is just holding a seat. Some people certainly approach it that way, but Cain did not.
Coach Cain has shown he is the solution to move the program forward after everything. The job also should have never been posted online two days after his team won the LEC Tournament. The people making this decision need to drop the interim off his title right now. They also need to apologize for the manner of how they posted the job for the full-time position.
Brian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org