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Monday, May 3, 2010
Cornell's basketball coach gets unique title

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

At most places, the men's basketball coach is just that: "Head men's basketball coach." Or "head coach of the men's basketball team." Or, if he's especially well-entrenched, maybe "associate athletic director (men's basketball)." You get the point.

Not at Cornell. The Ivy League has lots of cool traditions -- or, depending on your perspective, lots of hoity-toity customs -- and the men's basketball position at Andy Bernard's alma mater is no different. At Cornell, the men's hoops coach is officially called the Robert E. Gallagher '44 men's basketball coach. To paraphrase Mr. Bernard, ever heard of it?

I hadn't actually, but that's the position filled by Bill Courtney, the newest men's basketball coach at Cornell. Courtney will replace Steve Donahue, who led the Big Red to their most successful season ever in 2009-10 before leaving to take the head men's position at Boston College. As far as I can tell, the Robert E. Gallagher '44 thing is a reference to the class of 1944, and Gallagher's contributions therein. If any Cornell grads want to come out of the woodwork in the comments and give us the whole story, please do. In the meantime, we love you, Ivy League. Your quirkiness -- or, again depending on your perspective, haughtiness -- never fails to entertain.

Speaking of the Ivy League, Cornell wasn't the only program to fill a vacant position this weekend. Columbia hired Saint Mary's assistant Kyle Smith to replace former coach Joe Jones, who left the school to join Donahue as an assistant at Boston College. The hire, like Courtney's, makes sense; Smith was a longtime assistant at a very successful small Division I program and will have a good handle on what it takes to win in a league that gives its coaches funny titles.