Jim Corrigan's decision to move down the hallway of Old Dominion's athletic administration building and accept Karen Barefoot's offer to coach women's basketball boiled down to several factors.
"I'm a coach and of course I want to coach," Corrigan said Friday. "It's a great opportunity to continue doing that with a great program that I think is headed in a positive direction."
Corrigan, the Monarchs' longtime men's assistant coach, was out of the profession for the first time in more than three decades when he wasn't retained by new men's coach Jeff Jones.
He hadn't found a job when Barefoot approached him several weeks ago, seeking a replacement for Amaka Agugua, headed for an assistant's position at Michigan State.
Barefoot had recently made another staff hire, bringing in Stanford assistant and former William and Mary head coach Trina Patterson. She replaced Tom McConnell, who got the head coach's job at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Barefoot was looking for both experience and familiarity.
"I was fortunate to have worked with Jim when I was an assistant coach here and now as head coach," Barefoot said in a statement released through the athletic department. "I must have talked Xs and Os with him over 100 times in our offices and there is no doubt he has one of the best basketball minds in the game, as well as being a great teacher of the game."
Corrigan said he considered the offer for a couple of weeks before accepting earlier this week.
"I look at it as kind of a new chapter in my life and a new experience," said Corrigan, who turned 55 in June. "I'm going to take it as an opportunity to learn some things and hopefully become a better coach."
Corrigan has never coached women before, but he believes the differences between coaching genders are minimal. There are subtle differences in areas of recruiting and player contact with which he must familiarize himself. He joked that he might have to temper his language occasionally.
"But in terms of the game of basketball, you're teaching players how to dribble, pass and shoot and how to think the game," he said. "I don't think that changes."
Corrigan has been at ODU for the past 19 years, first under Jeff Capel and then Blaine Taylor. He was associate head coach the past two years and was thrust into the interim head coaching gig late in the season after Taylor was fired.
ODU suffered its worst season (5-25) since becoming a Division I program, but the Monarchs were 3-5 under Corrigan in the final weeks of the season, including wins over CAA regular season champ Northeastern and preseason favorite Drexel.
Corrigan drew broad praise for his handling of the team at the end of the season. Athletic director Wood Selig insisted that Corrigan was a finalist for the job before naming Jones.
Corrigan said he hadn't considered coaching women until he was approached. He views the Lady Monarchs' position as a multi-year commitment and not simply a temporary lifeline until a men's opportunity arises. One side benefit, he said, is that he gets to see his son conclude his high school basketball career.
"Karen's made great progress in the past two years," Corrigan said. "We have some good, young players and she's brought in a very good recruiting class. We're going into a new league, which I think is exciting. This is a great job for me for a lot of reasons."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun