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University of Michigan Assistant Basketball Coach Brian Ellerbe Named Interim Coach of NIT

October 25, 1997

University of Michigan Assistant Basketball Coach Brian Ellerbe Named Interim Coach of NIT Champion WolverinesBy JIM SUHR

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ A two-week search for a successor to the fired Steve Fisher ended with the Michigan men’s basketball program remaining under the interim stewardship of Wolverines assistant coach Brian Ellerbe.

``I decided to keep our group intact,″ athletic director Tom Goss told reporters Friday in naming Ellerbe to the head coach’s job for the coming season. ``Brian understands this will be an interim position.″

The move came hours after Goss interviewed former Brigham Young coach Roger Reid, then elevated Ellerbe to maintain stability in the Wolverines program until a national search resumes next spring.

``Roger would be one of the individuals I’d consider (for the permanent job) after the end of the basketball season,″ Goss said without specifying why he rejected Reid, whose son Brian is a Wolverines point guard.

Reid was among seven candidates Goss said he interviewed in person. Goss said he asked two questions of each finalist: ``How will leaving your institution impact your institution?″ and ``How will it impact your student-athlete that you just recruited?″

Goss said Friday that he wasn’t satisfied with the answers, prompting an interview with Ellerbe just two hours before Friday’s news conference.

``I look at this as a great stepping stone for the rest of my career,″ Ellerbe said.

Ellerbe, 34, came to Michigan in May after amassing a 37-47 record in three seasons as head coach at Loyola College in Baltimore. Before becoming a head coach at Loyola, Ellerbe served as an assistant at Virginia for three years, at South Carolina for a year, at George Mason for two years and at Bowling Green for two years.

Rumors abounded as to who would replace Fisher, whom Goss fired Oct. 10 after a Kansas law firm released a report saying the Michigan basketball program was guilty of three NCAA violations the university called ``minor.″

Goss said he interviewed 36 candidates by phone and consulted with leading coaches, including Roy Williams of Kansas, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Bobby Knight of Indiana, John Thompson of Georgetown and former North Carolina coach Dean Smith.

``The players were extremely comfortable with this move,″ Goss said.

No Michigan players attended Friday’s news conference. The school’s sports information director, Bruce Madej, said the Wolverines did not practice Friday and were unavailable for comment.

Ellerbe pledged to work closely with assistant coaches Brian Dutcher and Scott Trost.

``I don’t look at it as me hovering over top. It will be the three of us leading this program to a point where I think we’re beyond respectability,″ he said. ``We’ve taken some hits but I think we’re ready to move forward and I’m sure the players are as well.″

Ellerbe follows a path similar to what his ex-boss took to get the coaching job. Fisher was an assistant coach when Bill Frieder resigned just before the 1989 NCAA tournament to become coach at Arizona State. Fisher led the Wolverines to the national championship that spring.

Fisher has not yet taken another coaching job. Earlier this week, he said he turned down an offer to become coach at South Alabama.

The Wolverines are coming off a 24-11 season and the NIT championship.

``Michigan is one of the premier athletic departments in the country and our job is to continue a real strong tradition here in many different ways,″ Ellerbe said.

Although the interim position lasts for just the coming season, Ellerbe said he was interested in the job on a permanent basis.

``Obviously, I hope it’s longer,″ he said. ``I’m not looking at it as difficult, I’m looking at it as a challenge.″

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