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Bill Carmody -- former Princeton Basketball coach

In another blow to an already wounded program, Bill Carmody announced yesterday that he will be leaving his job as head coach of the Princeton men's basketball team to take the top spot at Northwestern in the fall. The Tigers wasted no time and stayed in-house to find a replacement for Carmody, as John Thompson III will be announced as the Tigers' new coach at a press conference at 2 p.m. today, according to Princeton athletics spokesman Jerry Price. Thompson, the son of legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson, played college ball for the Tigers and was an assistant coach at Old Nassau for the past six years. Thompson will become the first African-American coach in Tigers' basketball history. Carmody's departure came barely a week after Princeton learned that it would be losing first team All-Ivy center Chris Young for good and forward Ray Robins for the season. The 6'11" Young signed a minor league baseball contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and under Ivy League rules, is now ineligible to compete in any Ivy sport. Robins, a 6'7" junior who started 11 games this past winter, is taking a year off for unspecified reasons. "I am very grateful for the opportunity that Northwestern University has given me," Carmody said in a press conference in Evanston, Ill., yesterday. "To be able to coach at a school with such a tremendous academic standing and in the top conference in Division I basketball was something that I could not turn down. "I want my guys at Northwestern to understand how great of an opportunity it is to play college basketball and that if they work hard at it every day how much can be accomplished when they approach the game in the right way." The new Northwestern coach takes the helm of the struggling Big Ten program from Kevin O'Neill, who left on Friday to become an assistant coach with the New York Knicks. Carmody leaves Princeton after four seasons as head coach, during which he amassed a 92-25 record. The Tigers captured the Ivy title and reached the NCAA Tournament in Carmody's first two campaigns and finished as runner-up to Penn the past two years. Northwestern, on the other hand, has never been to the NCAA Tournament and finished its campaign a year ago with a dismal 5-25 record. Six Wildcats players have transferred in the past 12 months, and only seven scholarship athletes are returning. Nonetheless, Carmody is moving from the non-scholarship Ivy League to the Big Ten, and he has practically nowhere to go at Northwestern but up. "I think it's a great opportunity for Carmody," Columbia coach and former Princeton assistant Armond Hill said. "He's proven that he could coach at this level, and now he has the opportunity to go to a tough conference." One factor that may have led to Carmody's selection was that one of his friends, Northwestern President Henry Bienen -- a former chair of the Political Science Department at Princeton -- was in his corner during the Wildcats' search process. Meanwhile, the late timing of Carmody's departure may have an adverse effect on the Tigers. Though Thompson played college ball at Princeton and has been the junior varsity coach for the Tigers the past four seasons, the loss of Carmody, Young, Robins and assistant Joe Scott -- the new head man at Air Force -- in one summer will be hard to swallow. "The impact will be tremendous," Hill said. "Obviously, losing two great minds with Carmody and Scott is going to be tough." While some Ivy fans may take pleasure in seeing a virtual dismantling of the Princeton program, others closer to the action lament the loss of another dedicated competitor. "It's obviously not the ideal situation," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said of Carmody's departure. "But I think Princeton has some very talented basketball players, and they'll be a good team. "Congratulations to John. We wish him the best of luck. I'm sure [the Princeton games] will be two very competitive games for us." Other names mentioned as possible successors at Princeton during the one-day vacancy included Hill and Scott, who moved to Air Force just this past spring. Contacted before the confirmation of Thompson's promotion yesterday, Hill felt that the Tigers would be on the best path by staying in-house for a successor. "I think J.T. should carry the torch," Hill said. "No one has called me, and I'm not trying to wait for a call. But I think it's natural that since J.T. has been there for five years that he'll move up." This will be Thompson's first head coaching position, but he has built strong bonds with players as an assistant over the past few seasons. "He's well respected," Young told the Associated Press yesterday. "He's a good guy and he knows what he is doing. He's very easy to talk to. I think he'll be a player's coach.

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