OGDEN -- The long search for a head coach at Weber State ended Thursday with the appointment of Joe Cravens.
Cravens, a former assistant to Rick Majerus at Utah, and former head coach at Idaho, served as an assistant at Weber the past two seasons. He becomes the eighth head coach at Weber State since it became a four-year institution in 1962-63.During his tenure at Idaho, Cravens built a 43-40 record, leading the Vandals. Idaho opted not to renew Cravens' coaching contract following the 1995-96 season, and the 45-year-old made his way back to Utah where he joined Abegglen.
Craven was also an interim head coach at Utah. He was an assistant to Majerus at Utah in 1989-90, but took over the head coaching duties for much of that year when Majerus had heart bypass surgery, six games into the season. He led the team to a 17-14 overall record, 15-12 in games he was the head coach. He finished second in the WAC coach of the year balloting.
Cravens replaces Ron Abegglen, who resigned after leading the Wildcats for eight seasons. Cravens, who because the eighth coach in Wildcat hoops history, was an assistant at Texas-Arlington, Southwest Texas State, Washington and Utah.
"The last eight months were hard on the program for me and everybody in this room," said Cravens, referring to the resignation of Abegglen. "I say it's now time to reunite as Wildcat fans and supporters."
Cravens won the job over another WSU assistant coach, Guy Beach.
"I can promise you I will be extremely loyal to you people, to the university and the community," said Cravens.
"I'm very excited and proud to be the coach here," Cravens said at a news conference announcing his appointment. "If you look at the past coaches -- Dick Motta, Neil McCarthy, Phil Johnson and Ron Abegglen -- what good company."
Abegglen, named Big Sky Conference coach of the year last week after leading the Wildcats to the conference championship, post-season tournament title and a first-round victory in the NCAA Tournament, agreed last August to a buyout of his contract following the 1998-99 season after he was involved in a domestic altercation with his wife, Nedra.
Abegglen and the WSU basketball program already were under NCAA and university-imposed probation for violation of NCAA rules.
Terms of Craven's deal were not announced. A spokesman for the school said Thursday morning that he wasn't sure that the years or dollars had been worked out yet.
The hiring of Cravens comes seven days after the Wildcats came within one missed shot of advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 in Abegglen's final game with the Wildcats.
The move, on the surface, would appear to appease some Wildcat players who have said they would consider transferring to another school if either Cravens or Beach were not selected to coach Weber State next season. Star players Harold Arceneaux and Eddie Gill, both first-team all Big Sky selections, indicated a transfer would be in the works if one of the two assistants was not selected to replace Abegglen.
Arceneaux, Gill and departing senior Noel Jackson each played for Beach at the College of Eastern Utah during the 1996-97 season before Beach joined Abegglen at Weber State.
Immediately following WSU's overtime loss to Florida in the NCAA second round, both Arceneaux and Gill indicated they would most likely stay at Weber State for their senior seasons, though they also left available the option to transfer if they were not satisfied with the selection made by Weber State athletic director John Johnson.
Abegglen also had indicated the best move for the program would be to retain both assistant with one assuming head coaching duties in order to maintain as much continuity for the players as possible.
Some reports Monday had both players saying they will now transfer, since Beach was not selected.
Arceneaux, who scored 36 and 31 points, respectively, against North Carolina and Florida in the NCAA tournament in Seattle, was definite about leaving WSU.
"I don't know where just yet, but I won't be at Weber," he said.
The 6-foot-6 Arceneaux indicated a redshirt season someplace else or "even the NBA" could be in his future.
Gill, who also has one more season left, plus a redshirt year if he so chooses, said he also would transfer.
"I don't know if I would go with Harold, but I'm going somewhere other than (Weber) for my last season," he said.
Beach says he has been offered an assistant's position with Cravens at Weber State and is considering the offer.
Craves said he has yet to speak to Arceneaux and Gill regarding their threats to still leave the Wildcat program.
Deseret News staff writer Jared Eborn and the Associated Press contributed to this report.