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Donahue emerging in BC hunt

Cornell’s Steve Donahue was praised for his work ethic and recruitment. Cornell’s Steve Donahue was praised for his work ethic and recruitment. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / April 5, 2010

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INDIANAPOLIS — Although there has been no offer made — and Northeastern coach Bill Coen won’t be interviewed until this morning — sources familiar with the situation say that Boston College has put Cornell coach Steve Donahue near the top of the list for its next basketball coach.

“Very impressive’’ and “a good fit’’ was how one source described the reaction of BC officials when they interviewed Donahue last week at the Newton Marriott.

All of the candidates interviewed thus far — Donahue, Fairfield’s Ed Cooley, and Richmond’s Chris Mooney — impressed officials enough to remain in consideration to replace Al Skinner, who was fired 12 days ago. Mooney withdrew his name Friday after agreeing to a contract extension with Richmond.

Coen, who has established Northeastern as a contender in the Colonial Athletic Association, and Cooley were once part of Skinner’s staff. Donahue doesn’t have any BC ties, but he’s emerged as a rising star at Cornell, advancing to the Round of 16 in this year’s NCAA Tournament before being eliminated by Kentucky in the regional semifinals.

The question about Donahue is whether he can recruit at the level of the Atlantic Coast Conference instead of the Ivy League. BC received endorsements from officials from other BCS conferences, praising not only Donahue’s work ethic, but his ability to recruit and build programs.

What BC must factor in after talking to Coen is whether to go with a new face for Eagles basketball, or fall back on someone from the Skinner coaching tree.

BC might also contact Butler’s Brad Stevens to find out if there is any interest. Money would not be in issue. Stevens’s guaranteed income has been reported at $396,000, which BC could double, or triple, since Skinner’s total compensation package, not including deferred payments, was approximately $1.1 million. A call to Stevens, who is preparing for tonight’s national championship game, seems likely in the next few days.