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Thursday, May 26, 2005
Former Drexel, ECU coach returns to America East

By Andy Katz

So much for helping Stan Heath get Arkansas into the NCAA Tournament.

Former East Carolina coach Bill Herrion ended his brief month-long stint as an assistant to the Razorbacks' coach on Thursday and accepted the head coaching position at New Hampshire.

Herrion agonized over the decision the past week, weighing whether to keep his commitment at Arkansas or continue as a head coach after coaching at Drexel prior to ECU.

In the end, ties to his hometown of Worcester were too strong. Herrion is taking over the tall task of resurrecting a dormant program at UNH at a time when the America East is in transition.

Vermont will be on the way down after its remarkable senior class, led by America East player of the year winners Taylor Coppenrath and T.J. Sorrentine, graduated and legendary head coach Tom Brennan retired. Northeastern is off to the Colonial Athletic Association. That leaves Boston University as the benchmark program in the league along with rising power (relative term here for this league) Albany and consistent upper-tier team Maine.

Herrion was picked up by Arkansas after he was fired this year at East Carolina, where he had a 70-98 record the last six seasons. His family never moved to Fayetteville and remained in Greenville, N.C., so his two children could complete the school year.

Herrion, who was making $150,000 at Arkansas, will take a $20,000 pay cut to run a New Hampshire program that has had only eight winning campaigns since 1952 and was 45-125 in the last six seasons.

Arkansas made a strong push to keep Herrion, with athletic director Frank Broyles calling Herrion from Augusta National Golf Course throughout the week, trying to convince him to stay in Fayetteville.

Heath told earlier this week that he understood Herrion's desire to stay as a head coach. Broyles and Heath would like to find an assistant coach who is a former head coach. That could include coaches like former Akron coach Dan Hipsher or former LaSalle coach Billy Hahn.

Herrion said in a statement on Arkansas' website Thursday, "The head coaching situation at the University of New Hampshire just opened up about two weeks ago and for me was a very unique opportunity. I wanted to be a Division I head coach again, but I didn't think I would get that opportunity this quickly. There were several other factors involved. I was the head coach at Drexel for eight years. Drexel is in the same league as New Hampshire, so there's a lot of familiarity there with both New Hampshire and the league. It is also an opportunity to get back to the New England area where I've done a lot of my coaching, where I played and where my family lives."

Herrion, 47, replaces Phil Rowe at UNH. Rowe, who resigned three weeks ago after posting a 45-125 record in six seasons.

Herrion was 167-71 at Drexel when the Dragons were in the America East (now in the CAA) with UNH. He led the Dragons to three NCAA appearances, including a first-round win over Memphis in 1996. Herrion enters UNH with an overall record of 237-169.

"I'm obviously very excited about the opportunity to be head coach at UNH," said Herrion on UNH's website. "It's a great opportunity to get back into America East, a league that I'm very familiar with and have a lot of respect for. We are looking forward to moving this basketball program in the right direction and to compete for the championship in America East."

Andy Katz is a senior writer at Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.