Ever since Feb. 25 when the former coach resigned, Donny Daniels has been the frontrunner for the Cal State Fullerton basketball job.

It took nearly two months, but the longtime, popular Utah assistant coach finally got the job he has long coveted. Daniels signed a four-year contract and was introduced as the new Titan coach at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

"I'm very excited to be back at a school where I have played and coached," said Daniels, who was a finalist for the job twice before. "The people here have been very nice and gracious."

The 45-year-old Daniels inherits a program that is on NCAA probation and finished 8-19 overall and in last place in the Big West at 3-13. Daniels will only be allowed 11 scholarship players next year and can't recruit junior college players for two years because of NCAA sanctions imposed on the previous coaching staff.

"This is a great challenge for me, but one that I am ready for," said Daniels. "I'm going to jump into this job with both feet and with enthusiasm,"

Daniels not only played at Fullerton from 1974-76, but was twice an assistant coach there. He came to Utah with coach Rick Majerus in 1989 and has been a major part of the Utes' success for 11 seasons. Daniels said he is sad to leave his longtime job in Utah.

"I fell in love with the state of Utah and the people there," he said. "It's hard to leave a job you know so well. I want to thank coach Majerus for all the knowledge and responsibility he's given me over the years. I'd also like to thank Chris Hill for all of his support and advice."

Majerus who is in the Los Angeles area recruiting, said he was happy for his longtime assistant.

"I'm grateful for everything he's done for us and I'm happy for him. I'll miss Donny," said Majerus. "This is a great opportunity for him and I think he'll do a fantastic job. I wouldn't be surprised to see them win the league three years from now.

As for a possible replacement, Majerus said "I have two or three guys in mind, but the chances are pretty good I won't do anything until June 1."

Dick Hunsaker and Jeff Strohm both just completed their first full seasons as assistant coaches.

You can reach Mike Sorensen by e-mail at [email protected]