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Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy interviewed for the coaching position at La Salle, his alma mater. (Will Burhop/DP File Photo)

Last Wednesday, Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy met with La Salle Athletic Director Tom Brennan to discuss the school's head coaching vacancy. Dunphy said the 90-minute meeting went well. "We sat down and talked for a while," Dunphy said. "It went fine." La Salle fired coach William "Speedy" Morris on March 9 after 15 seasons at the helm. "It's my alma mater, so that's the reason they called and why I went to talk to them," said Dunphy, who graduated from La Salle in 1970. On several occasions, Dunphy has said that while he will listen when someone wants to talk to him, he believes he has a great job at Penn. "I'm coaching Penn right now," he said yesterday. "That's the way I'm looking at it." Dunphy added that he has no idea when La Salle will make a decision. While Brennan could not be reached for comment yesterday, La Salle Sports Information Director Kevin Currie, who is serving as the university's spokesman in the search, said they are still looking for Morris' replacement. "Everybody wants to do it as fast as possible," Currie said. Prior to joining then-Penn coach Tom Schneider's staff in 1988, Dunphy was an assistant at La Salle for three seasons. Dunphy became the Quakers' head coach before the 1989-90 season. In his 12 seasons as head coach, he has led the Red and Blue to a 206-122 record and six Ivy League titles. Dunphy, however, is not the only Fran with Penn connections being considered for the position. Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon, who served as Dunphy's assistant for six seasons before becoming the Leopards coach in 1995, and UNC-Greensboro coach Fran McCaffery, a Penn graduate, have also interviewed with Brennan. Dunphy said that he has discussed the opening with O'Hanlon. "He's interested. At any point, when someone wants to talk, you listen," Dunphy said. "But coach O'Hanlon has a great job at Lafayette, just like I have a great job at Penn." McCaffery, a 1982 Wharton graduate, played for the Quakers from 1979 through 1982 and then served as a Quakers assistant under Craig Littlepage during the 1982-83 season. He has been the Spartans head coach for the past two seasons and was the head man at Lehigh from 1985 through 1988. Yesterday's Philadelphia Daily News reported that La Salle "really likes" McCaffery. La Salle, though, is not the only program searching for a new coach, and what happens with the other schools could affect whom the Explorers get. After unexpectedly resigning at Villanova on Friday after nine seasons, Steve Lappas was introduced as the new coach at Massachusetts yesterday. Villanova immediately offered its job to Hofstra coach Jay Wright, a Philadelphia-area native and one of the rising stars in the collegiate coaching ranks. Villanova will hold a news conference today to announce Wright's hiring. What makes the situation confusing for the other schools is that Wright was considered the leading candidate for the Rutgers opening before the Villanova position became available. Thus, Lappas' resignation at 'Nova could cause a domino effect in terms of what the other schools do. "It could snowball from there," Currie said. "Rutgers is still looking for somebody, and last I heard their only option was Jay Wright. Now they might go after somebody we're looking at. Who knows?" The Daily News also reported that McCaffery is interested in the Rutgers job. There are also openings at Duquesne, Drexel and several other schools along the East Coast. Many of these schools will be competing for the same candidates, and depending on whom they hire, several other jobs could become available this offseason. In Philadelphia alone, there will be least three new coaches. Dunphy, for one, is not shocked by the recent turn of events in his hometown. "I think things go in cycles," Dunphy said. "It's our turn here in Philadelphia. Nothing surprises me in our profession."

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