Idaho head coach Tim Floyd, Auburn assistant Ned Fowler and former professional coach Tom Nissalke were chosen Friday night as finalists for vacant head basketball coach's job at the University of New Orleans.
Floyd, Fowler and Nissalke will return to New Orleans next week for a second round of interviews, said Dave Sherman, chairman of UNO's seven-member search committee.Though he set no deadline Friday for naming a successor to Art Tolis, Sherman had said earlier he hoped a decision could be made soon because high school recruits began signing last Wednesday.
Tolis was fired after compiling a 21-11 record in the first year of what was to have been a three-year contract. Though he promised to fight his dismissal in court, Tolis and UNO eventually reached an out-of-court accord.
Floyd and Fowler were the last two candidates to interview with the UNO committee Floyd on Thursday night and Fowler on Friday night. Nissalke interviewed last Tuesday.
All three finalists have Louisiana and New Orleans connections. Floyd is a 1977 Louisiana Tech graduate who worked for a time with the New Orleans Saints; Fowler once was head coach across town at Tulane; and Nissalke, from Salt Lake City, who coached the Utah Jazz, was once an assistant coach at Tulane.
Other candidates to interview were LSU associate head coach Ron Abernathy, assistant coaches Bob Stinnett of UNO, Dwane Casey of Kentucky and Duane Reboul of Mississippi State, former UNO and Tulane assistant Kirk Saulny and Troy State head coach Don Maestri.
"All three finalists have head coaching experience, which the committee considered very important," said Sherman. "We're not just beginning the program here so we wanted someone with that experience."
Nissalke, 53, was a head coach for 13 years in the NBA and ABA and is a two-time NBA Coach of the Year. He was an assistant coach at Tulane from 1963 to 1968. His last coaching job was as head coach of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers in 1983-84.