With his impressive resume, high-level experience and nationwide contacts, Tim Taylor could easily have held out for a head coaching job at a Power 5 conference school.
Considering he spent a decade at North Carolina and Virginia, Taylor would have been an ideal candidate the next time an Atlantic Coast Conference program was hiring a women’s basketball coach.
Instead, Taylor accepted the head coaching job at the Naval Academy, which plays in the Patriot League. Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk made the announcement Tuesday that Taylor would succeed Stefanie Pemper, who was dismissed March 10 after 12 years at the helm.
“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to become a collegiate head coach. However, it was not going to be just any school,” Taylor told The Capital in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I wanted to be somewhere special that fit my values. Everything the Naval Academy represents and stands for resonates with me. I felt God was opening a door for me. I felt a calling.”
Taylor ranks as one of the most respected assistant coaches at the Division I level, having served a total of 12 years at Furman, Virginia and North Carolina. He spent nine seasons on the bench at Virginia, first under legendary head coach Debbie Ryan then later for her successor Joanne Boyle.
Taylor chose Navy as his first head coaching destination because he wants to assist the ultimate mission of commissioning officers.
“The Naval Academy is a military institution, an academic institution, an athletic institution and a higher calling institution. It is a place where a coach has an opportunity to make an impact, to make difference,” he said. “Sure, I could have chased a Power Five conference job. However, if you look at my resume you will see that I always valued education. This situation just felt right and I’m extremely excited to get started.”
Gladchuk said that the Naval Academy Athletic Association received approximately 80 applications for the vacancy. Taylor’s package caught the eye of the veteran athletic director, who was hiring a women’s basketball head coach for the third time in his 20-year tenure.
“Coach Taylor put together a comprehensive portfolio, an impressive presentation that outlined in great detail his coaching philosophy, style and core beliefs,” Gladchuk said. “I felt he was an ideal fit on paper, and that belief was further solidified by the many phone calls and virtual meetings we had thereafter.”
Naturally, Gladchuk performed his due diligence by contacting numerous references in the world of college women’s basketball.
“I was really pleased to learn about the impeccable reputation Coach Taylor had within the business. I could not come across one negative comment on any front,” he said. “Coach Taylor is an upbeat, positive, really energetic guy. I think he will have a great influence and make a great impression on the women.”
Gladchuk noted that Taylor has held the title of recruiting coordinator at every stop along the way and has contacts throughout the country. Recruiting to a Patriot League program is dramatically different from doing so for an ACC school, but Gladchuk believes Taylor will make the adjustment.
“This guy has worked at high academic institutions. You can’t sneak people in the backdoor at North Carolina and Virginia,” Gladchuk said. “I have no doubt Coach Taylor will be able to recruit the caliber of athlete that will help make Navy very competitive in the Patriot League.”
Taylor also did his homework in terms of discovering what it’s like to coach at the Naval Academy. He reached out to colleagues who had spent time on the Annapolis campus and was impressed by what he heard.
“I talked to a lot of people who had worked at the Naval Academy and everything that came back was positive. In fact, I have never heard anything bad about Navy,” he said.
Gladchuk fired Pemper after Navy endured consecutive losing seasons, finishing 7-23 in 2019-20 on the heels of going 10-19 in 2018-19. Taylor was asked if the athletic director outlined certain expectations for the new head coach.
“Chet wants to win, wants to compete for conference championships,” Taylor said. “Chet is also looking for someone to lead. He wants a coach who will challenge and inspire the student-athletes, while giving them a positive experience. I think our visions align perfectly.”
Jimmy Collotton, who spent six years as an assistant to Pemper, served as interim coach for the past month and a half. Collotton held things together in terms of communicating with the returning players, serving as point of contact for incoming recruits and continuing the process of evaluating future prospects.
“Jimmy and I had a two-hour conversation this morning about a lot of different things. He has a tremendous amount of knowledge about the Naval Academy and was very helpful,” Taylor said.
Taylor has drawn up a short list of candidates for building a staff and said it’s way too early to say whether Collotton will be retained. Taylor planned to introduce himself to the returning players during a virtual team meeting on Wednesday night.
“I’m coming down there tomorrow because I want to get on campus and check out the facilities. I hope to talk with some of the more successful coaches at Navy to pick their brains about what works and what doesn’t,” Taylor said.
“I’ve already started watching game film, just trying to isolate some things and see where individual players can improve. As soon as possible, I’d like to start planning summer workouts. I’m not looking to make any quick judgments. I need to get in there and get a feel for everything involved with the program.”
Taylor, like Gladchuk, is not concerned about his lack of experience recruiting the type of student-athletes that normally attend a Patriot League school.
“It all comes down to relationships. There will be a special type of kid that needs to come to Navy,” he said. “I’ve already had five coaches reach out to me about kids who are interested in Naval Academy. I don’t think we’ll have any problem finding the type of players we need to win there.”