Aughey era is over at Memorial

Turns in resignation after eight years as head coach of Sea-Hawks men's team

Robin Short rshort@thetelegram.com
Published on June 26, 2008
Todd Aughey was 46-113 as head coach of the Memorial men's basketball team. Telegram file photo

Memorial University athletic director Michelle Healey said the university will begin an immediate search to find a replacement for men's basketball coach Todd Aughey, who tendered his resignation Tuesday following a disastrous eight-year run behind the Sea-Hawks' bench.

Healey might not have to look very far. And no, we're not talking about Doug Partridge, who's developed the Sea-Hawks women's program into one of the best in the country.

Memorial University athletic director Michelle Healey said the university will begin an immediate search to find a replacement for men's basketball coach Todd Aughey, who tendered his resignation Tuesday following a disastrous eight-year run behind the Sea-Hawks' bench.

Healey might not have to look very far. And no, we're not talking about Doug Partridge, who's developed the Sea-Hawks women's program into one of the best in the country.

A day before Aughey knocked on Healey's door with his resignation letter in hand, Les Berry did the same at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S.

The difference between Aughey and Berry is the latter was winning basketball games.

"Any coaching job interests me," Berry said Wednesday afternoon. "Am I interested (in the Memorial job)? Yeah, absolutely."

In 2007-08, Aughey and the Sea-Hawks managed to do what no other Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men's basketball team had accomplished since the AUS adopted a 20-game format - go winless through the season.

It was also the first time in 25 years - when Mount Allison went 0-16 - that an AUS team couldn't record a single victory.

Since taking over from the popular Glenn Taylor, Aughey's record at MUN reads 46-113, with four playoff appearances, all of which came during losing seasons. In 2001-02, the Sea-Hawks were 11-9, the only time Memorial played over .500.

Along the way, Aughey managed to alienate many players, fans, media and sponsors.

Still, Memorial was prepared to have him return for a ninth season.

"We were quite comfortable and confident Todd was going to be running the program in 2008-09," Healey said.

Healey said Aughey voluntarily resigned, which surprised her. He will remain on staff until the end of July running Memorial's summer basketball camps.

Though the basketball season doesn't start for four months, this is a pivotal time for university teams. It's when coaches are recruiting high schoolers and Healey said she'll speak to the "six in the mix" with whom Aughey has been in contact.

"Conversations will continue," she said. "I'll talk to them to let them know we're still interested.

"But no doubt the timing is tight. There are a number of jobs that have been posted and filled across the country."

As for Berry, he resigned from Acadia this week citing a lack of "passion."

Insiders suggest the real reason may have everything to do with his relationship with Acadia athletic director Brian Heaney.

Either way, Berry carries an impressive resume.

When he took over the Axemen three years ago, they were last in the AUS at 2-17. The next season, they won the conference championship and this year - when they were in the national top 10 rankings all season - made it all the way to the national championship game.

"I've been there," he said when asked about the possibility of taking over Memorial following its woeful recent history. "I knew when I walked into Acadia, after three coaches in one year, it was a difficult situation.

"But recruiting is very important, getting the right kids in place and having them play a lot their first year.

"You take your lumps, but you can see what can happen in Year 3," he said in reference to the Axemen. "It's not insurmountable. We went from worst to first in three years."

One potential candidate took his name off the list Wednesday. Partridge, who has guided the Lady Hawks to seven AUS titles, a national bronze, won a couple of AUS coach of the year awards and a national top coaching honor, flatly stated he's not interested.

"Maybe at a different point in my life," he said. "There's a lot of work reconstructing men's basketball in the province, not just that team.

"I've got two small kids (ages five and 10) and it's important for me to see them grow up. I know how much time it took to build our program and most of the work was done in the first six or seven years. Now I'm reaping the rewards, you might say.

"And I'm not someone who feels they have to coach men to be relevant."

With top scorer Grant Harvey not returning next season, and not a lot of immediate help on the horizon, the cupboard looks pretty bare at the Field House.

"So," noted Healey, "it's a wonderful opportunity for someone to come in and make their mark."

Calls placed to Aughey's office were not returned.

rshort@thetelegram.com