Cornell coach Bill Courtney weighs in on Donahue hiring


Steve Donahue made his mark on the national stage up in Ithaca in his 10-year tenure, leading Cornell to three straight Ivy League titles and a Sweet 16 berth. While Donahue left Cornell for Boston College, his impact is still felt by the Big Red. Now, with Donahue taking the head coaching job at Penn, he’ll face his former squad twice a year. ESPN Ithaca interviewed current Cornell coach Bill Courtney, who took over from Donahue, and asked him about the news.

ESPN: What do you think about the news?

Bill Courtney: It was incredible news today and we had heard a little bit about it the last week or so. Obviously, with the University of the Pennsylvania, you look at Steve: He’s an incredible candidate and obviously the job he did here at Cornell, a legendary job in what he was able accomplish here. He’s a great coach. He’s a great guy. He’s been so supportive of us here at Cornell and I think they did a great job by going out and getting it done to be able to get Steve to come to Penn. It’s a place he’s familiar with, a place he’s [coached] at for close to 10 years, a place in Philadelphia where he grew up.

ESPN: Do you think he’s a good fit then?

BC: "Absolutely," Courtney responded to the question. "I don't know that if you're Penn if you [can] go out and find a better guy than Steve Donahue. Obviously this league has become extremely, extremely difficult and there are quality coaches at every institution and lots of very good players who play in this league now.

"So when you out and get a guy like Steve who you know is a very good coach, I think that speaks well about your program."

ESPN: Bill, after the rough season two years ago … a rough season not just for your Cornell squad with two wins but a tough one for [Boston College]. Steve Donahue let go there and spent this year as an analyst for ESPN. With him being unemployed as a coach entering this season, there were certainly some folks here in this community that said, ‘Hmm… I wonder if Steve could come back.’ You turned this Cornell program around with a 13-win season this year. Now Steve’s out of the mix. Does it feel like things are starting to settle the way it works out for everyone right now?

BC: The way you do it when you have one of these jobs and you’re trying to rebuild your program, you can worry about other things. You can’t worry about things that are going on around you that people talk about. You kind of have to focus on your job and your players and making sure they’re doing the right things on and off the floor.

And we had an idea that we’d be a lot better this year and we’d have a chance to compete in our league and we were able to do that. We’d have liked to have won some more games but we knew we’d be able to compete and we certainly feel that our program is heading in the right direction and we’re on our way up.

Again, Steve’s a great coach and I have tremendous respect for him and I wish him all the best at Penn except for two dates out of the year when we play them. It’s one of those things where the Ivy League was a tough league and I think it got a little bit tougher.

Listen to the rest of the interview here, as Courtney discusses Harvard and his NCAA Tournament picks. 

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