Cutting through the rumors and hearsay in Cal’s search for a new basketball coach

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It’s been 10 days since Mike Montgomery announced his retirement from coaching college basketball, and the search for a replacement is in full swing.

Based on past searches, Cal — which has no official timetable set for a decision — should be expected to make a decision soon. Cal Athletics took 15 days between football coach Jeff Tedford’s dismissal and Sonny Dykes’ hiring in 2012. It took 10 days to go from former basketball coach Ben Braun to Montgomery in 2008.

As fans and the media have grown more restless, rumors have begun flying over Twitter about potential replacements for coach Montgomery. Last week, the popular choice was UC Irvine coach Russell Turner. Arizona associate coach Joe Pasternack was Wednesday’s favorite. Thursday, it was Xavier’s Chris Mack, with one news story even stating he was offered the starting job. Other sources, however, indicated Cal has not offered the job to anyone, with some even saying that Cal hasn’t even discussed the job with Mack.

Barbour also said current associate coach Travis DeCuire, who Montgomery recommended upon his retirement, was a “serious candidate” for the job at the press conference for Montgomery’s retirement. DeCuire has been coaching alongside the former coach for the entire six years Montgomery spent at Cal.

“In my opinion, (the players) are ready to move forward with Travis (DeCuire) at the helm,” Montgomery said when he announced his retirement.

There has been a flurry of Tweets, speculation and anonymous sources with little hard information — and an abundance of misinformation — available.

One such piece of misinformation that broke Wednesday was that Cal was not using a search firm to find its next basketball coach like it did to find current football coach Sonny Dykes, and that only Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Vice Chancellor John Wilton were involved in the search. That report is not true. Cal is using DHR International — the same firm it used to find Dykes — to aid in its coaching search, Herb Benenson, assistant athletic director, said Thursday.

Critics like San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Ann Killion, have claimed that Cal should ditch the search firm to save the state of California money. Cal’s athletic department, however, does not actually receive money from the state, according to Benenson.

“Cal Athletics receives no state funding,” Benenson said. “That comes from our own operational budget.”

Killion went on to say fees from search firms such as DHR International could cost up to $250,000 for a Division I head coach. Benenson said that figure sounded high, but exact numbers from Cal’s contract with DHR International are not available.

All of this won’t change the fact that in the minds of some Cal fans, Mack is now the front runner. In five seasons at Xavier, Mack has coached the Musketeers to a 111-57 record, including four appearances in the NCAA tournament and two trips to the Sweet Sixteen. Luring Mack to Cal may prove difficult, as the Ohio native graduated from Xavier in 1992.

Cal Athletics has been consistent in the past on not commenting on coaching searches until the search is complete and had no comment on rumors about Mack, DeCuire or anyone else.

Riley McAtee covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @riley_mcatee