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Ferd's Words

After Chaminade dust settles, Bovaird appears to be a keeper

Ferd Lewis

Chaminade University announced the hiring of Eric Bovaird as its new men’s basketball coach Monday and then, you suspect, officials immediately crossed their fingers.

And, probably lit a candle or two at chapel for good measure.

If you are counting, it was the third time the Silverswords thought they were hiring for the same position in less than two weeks, surely a record in local hoops.

"It has been kinda bizarre," athletic director Bill Villa acknowledged.

When Matt Mahar left Chaminade in May after six seasons to take over at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., the, well, assumption, was that he might be tough to replace following three Pacific West Conference championships and a 101-64 record. But little did the Silverswords realize how challenging the process would become.

After a nationwide search that produced more than 200 applicants, one finalist, former Hawaii assistant Eran Ganot, pulled out to remain at Saint Mary’s (Calif.). Ultimately, CU said it offered the job to Bovaird, a seven-year assistant at West Liberty University in West Virginia, which had gone 33-1, losing to Brigham Young-Hawaii in the NCAA Division II semifinals.

But the 39-year-old Bovaird soon developed what was termed, a "change of heart." Bovaird said he had just found out his wife, Leigh, was pregnant and became reluctant to take her away from family living in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Soon after notifying Chaminade, Bovaird said he came to regret his decision and contacted Villa, only to be told the Silverswords were in the process of hiring somebody else. That was Cochise (Ariz.) College coach Jerry Carrillo, who was announced as the Silverswords’ coach June 6.

Carrillo had been pushed for the job by ex-UH assistant Jamie Dixon and Warriors’ football coach Dick Tomey. After 16 years at Cochise, smack dab on the Arizona-Mexico border, "Jamie told me I’d love it there in Hawaii," Carrillo said.

But five days into the job — and before even setting foot on Kalaepohaku — Carrillo, too, experienced second thoughts. Actually, his two high school-age daughters did. Especially Casey, who will be a senior in the fall. "Basically it has been a family crisis for about 72 hours and not a whole lot of fun around here," Carrillo said.

"Bottom line is family comes first," Carrillo said. "It was a tough decision, but the right one. He (Villa) was awesome. As a father and gentleman, he understood."

Meanwhile, Bovaird had resigned himself to having blown his shot. "I felt just horrible, I knew it was a great opportunity," Bovaird said. "My wife and I regretted it every day of the last two weeks. I felt so bad I called the school president to express my regret for how the whole thing went down."

But regret turned to flickering hope when he got a text from Villa over the weekend "telling me there was a new development and asked if I’d be interested," Bovaird said. "I told him I’d be extremely interested. I told him I’d jump on the next flight if he wanted me to."

That was good enough for Villa. But after the events of the last few weeks, the fingers might be crossed until he sees his new coach in person.


Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@staradvertiser.com.

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